IV bag picYou know the system is broken when everyone just excepts that a bag of saltwater will cost you 1,000 times that when administered in a hospital. According to date received from the government a bag of saline solution, which is literally just saltwater, costs anywhere from $.40 to $1 to produce. The prices have fluctuated over the past few years but have always stayed within those two prices. Federal law mandates that manufacturers report these prices to the government which makes the cost easy to track.

What’s not clear is what exactly happens to the saline solution bags after they leave the manufacturing plant. It seems to be a well kept secret what middlemen handle this and why exactly the mark up on this stuff is so egregious.

Dr. Frost, the anesthesiologist, spent three days in the same hospital and owed only $8, thanks to insurance coverage by United HealthCare. Still, she was baffled by the charges: $6,844, including $546 for six liters of saline that cost the hospital $5.16.

“It’s just absolutely absurd.” she said. “That’s saltwater.”

When patients are paying $90 for one bag of IV solution that costs as little as $.40 to manufacture there is something desperately wrong. You might think the price is justified because it costs money to pay the people who administer the IV solution. Well that would be nice except the cost to administer the solution come as a completely different charge. The $90 only covers the cost of the bag of saltwater, you’re paying extra to have it administered.

How have we gotten to a point where we know that there are people taking advantage of the system, manipulating politicians and we just say, “eh, that’s the way it is,”? These people are the reason healthcare is so outrageous in this country and why people are dying when they’re presented with a choice to seek help or put food on the table. This needs to stop now and until we speak up and start demanding answers, it will continue to happen and we’ll be the ones continuing to pay the price.

h/t New York Times

Posted by James Poling

A socialist, tinkerer, thinker, question asker and all around curiosity seeker. If you'd like to reach me you can use the contact link above or email me at jamespoling [at] gmail [dot] com.

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