The Real Cost of Health Care

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From Pacific Standard: “…The United States spends more per person on health care than any other country. A lot more. As a country, by many measures, we are not getting our money’s worth. Tens of millions remain uninsured. And millions are in financial peril: About one in five is currently being pursued by a collection agency over medical debt. Health-care costs repeatedly top the list of consumers’ financial concerns.

Experts frequently blame this on the high prices charged by doctors and hospitals. But less scrutinized is the role insurance companies—the middlemen between patients and those providers—play in boosting our health-care tab. Widely perceived as fierce guardians of health-care dollars, insurers, in many cases, aren’t. In fact, they often agree to pay high prices, then, one way or another, pass those high prices on to patients—all while raking in healthy profits.

ProPublica and NPR are examining the bewildering, sometimes enraging ways the health insurance industry works, by taking an inside look at the games, deals, and incentives that often result in higher costs, delays in care, or denials of treatment. The misunderstood relationship between insurers and hospitals is a good place to start.”

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