"If I pay this bill late, I may live long enough to get evicted!"
And if you think hospitals haven't been paying attention to this, guess again, because ...
Prices For Everything Else Are Even More Out Of Control
Without looking at your search bar: How much does this small paper cup cost? The kind you put medicine in?
Or a modest amount of pudding.
Trick question! There are two answers: If you order a pack of them off Amazon, you can get 250 of them for less than $5, which is about two cents a cup.
Even free shipping.
But if you have one handed to you by a nurse in a hospital, it could cost as much as $12, which you might notice is a 60,000 percent increase in price.
Paper cups aren't the only thing that gets an immediate price hike for being near a lab coat. Everything at a hospital costs far more than it should. You could be charged $39 for getting your finger pricked by a nurse or $200 for a warm blanket, and that's the small stuff. In the most overpriced hospital in America, you could be looking at a bill of $14,000 for getting four stitches. Or you could be charged $7,000 for a bunch of nurses to wipe off your newborn baby -- even if you delivered it in your car outside of the hospital.
This rise in prices can be attributed to a couple of factors. One of these is, again, consolidation. As hospitals grow and acquire each other, they're able to share resources and work a bit more efficiently. That sounds like it should cost patients less, but consolidation also means less competition, and because hospitals are a business in this country, they'll charge higher prices, knowing you're not able to take your "business" (i.e. severed thumb) elsewhere. The other reason for high prices is literally who the fuck knows. Prices for medical supplies and procedures are bafflingly random across the country. A bag of IV fluid that costs $16 at one hospital could cost $137 at another hospital in the exact same city, and the prices have absolutely nothing to do with demand or market fluctuations. The one thing that stays the same everywhere is that you're going to be paying more for an overnight visit than you paid for your first car.