KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Hospital Costs Under Microscope

An article that appeared in Time Magazine, "Bitter Pill: Why Medical Bills Are Killing Us," has fueled a new round of discussions about health care cost excesses -- especially in the hospital setting.

Bloomberg News/The New York Times: Letter From Washington: Cataloging Health Care's Excesses
Nonprofit hospitals, the cornerstone of many communities, capriciously overcharge patients, sticking the powerless with exorbitant bills, while paying lavish salaries to their executives; drug companies, which charge humongous markups to American customers, rake in huge profits; trial lawyers, with the threat of legal action, add to the cost of defensive medicine; President Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act does little to bend the cost curve, and while conservatives rail against Medicare, the government-run insurance program is more efficient and customer-friendly than the private system. None of this is new. Yet it resonates for several reasons: Mr. Brill documents the particulars more forcefully, and as health care spending approaches 20 percent of the U.S. economy, almost every American is affected and the debate is politically polarizing. When asked to respond to these charges, most of the system’s stakeholders react in similar ways: Many of these criticisms are valid -- except when it applies to us (Hunt, 3/3).

Kaiser Health News: Capsules: Expert: Hospitals' 'Humongous Monopoly' Drives Prices High
The American Enterprise Institute didn’t plan its panel last week on hospital consolidation to coincide with Steve Brill's much-talked-about Time magazine article on hospital prices. But the Friday session could have taken the piece, Bitter Pill: Why Medical Bills Are Killing Us, as its text. Participants mentioned it several times (Hancock, 3/4).

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