This morning I saw the headline that the Supreme Court will be hearing the Obama Healthcare case in the spring. “The justices announced they will hear more than five hours of arguments, an extraordinarily long session, from lawyers on the constitutionality of a provision at the heart of the law and other related questions about the act. The central provision in question is the requirement that individuals buy health insurance starting in 2014 or pay a penalty.”
As always, this issue made me think about the ridiculous cost of healthcare. I hate to sound curmudgeonly, but back in my day (which really wasn’t THAT long ago), insurance was used for emergencies only. People could actually afford to pay their doctor for immunizations, flu symptoms, etc. It was amazing how my working-class parents could even afford medication at the pharmacy without the assistance of insurance.
The story could stop there, but then I stumbled upon another article that blew my mind. Scorpion antivenin, approved by the FDA only this year, is being billed by Phoenix-area hospitals at over $12,000 PER VIAL! With up to five vials required for treatment, THE BILL JUST FOR THE MEDICINE (NOT TO MENTION EMERGENCY ROOM COSTS, ETC.) COULD BE OVER $62,000!!! This obviously put my WTF radar in high gear. (See the full article here - http://www.azcentral.com/news/articles/2011/11/10/20111110scorpion-drug-cost.html)
The worst part? Mexico has been producing and distributing the same antivenin for years with a cost average under $100 per vial at pharmacies and even less at when distributed intravenously at a hospital!
THE BILL JUST FOR THE MEDICINE (NOT TO MENTION EMERGENCY ROOM COSTS, ETC.) COULD BE OVER $62,000!!
Now take it from somebody who’s been stung a few times by scorpions. It sucks, but healthy people will get through a sting or two with very few issues. The drug is for the “at-risk” groups (the sick, elderly and children).
The drug distributor justifies their fee by telling us that it must cover the development and testing costs. Also, because an antivenin is only needed in limited supply, they don’t mass-produce which also drives the cost up. It’s apparently the difference between buying your groceries at your local Mom and Pop store (do those even exist anymore?) versus Walmart.
“Rare Disease Therapeutics sells the drug for $3,500 per dose to Accredo Health Care, a Memphis, Tenn.-based specialty pharmaceutical company that distributes the drugs to Arizona hospitals.
Several Arizona hospitals said they are charged about $3,780 per dose of Anascorp. Hospitals then add their own markup to cover extra costs such as patients who don’t pay their full bills.”
Oh, and did I mention that the FDA gave Rare Disease Therapeutics 7-year market exclusivity? This means that they are the ONLY company allowed to sell the drug in the U.S. for the next seven years.
So not only has our federal government given monopoly rights to a pharmaceutical company (go figure), hospitals apparently lose so much money that they have determined that they must mark-up the cost of the drug over 300%. WTF!?!?!
So Mr. President, I think you will see this is a perfect example of the capitalist American dream gone awry. We don’t need insurance as much as we need the healthcare industry to stop being such greedy bastards.
I hear the arguments that costs involve research, development, etc. I get that. But SOMEBODY is making mad stacks of cash off this deal, and as usual, the little guy is feeling the sting.