Are you saddled with medical debt? Do you have health insurance but still can't seem to keep up with the bills? A recent study conducted by the New York Times and two researchers for the University of Maryland Baltimore have uncovered some wildly surprising information regarding your health insurance and how much hospitals charge and receive from different insurers. They have found numerous examples of some of the world's health insurers, who make billions in profits each year, negotiating surprisingly unfavorable rates for their customers. In many cases, insured patients are getting prices that are higher than they would if they pretended to have no coverage at all.
For example, if you go to the University of Mississippi Medical Center for a colonoscopy then you will pay the following: $1,463.00 with a Cigna plan, $2,144.00 with an Aetna plan, and $782 with no insurance at all. Do you need a pregnancy test at a hospital? If you get one at the University of Pennsylvania you can expect to pay $18 if you have a Blue Cross plan and are a Pennsylvania resident, $58 with Blue Cross HMO and you live in New Jersey, $93 with a Blue Cross PPO and you live in New Jersey, or just $10 if you don't have insurance. The research also shows that small health plans with seemingly little leverage are often out-negotiating the five biggest insurers in the U.S. Moreover, a single insurer can have a half-dozen different prices within the same hospital, based on which plan was chosen at open enrollment, and whether it was bought as an individual or through work.
The bottom line is that 66% of all bankruptcies are somehow tied to medical debt. The conventional wisdom was that medical bills for the uninsured are a big driver but that simply isn't the case. Our healthcare system is so broken that you can actually buy your family a seemingly good health insurance plan, pay your monthly premiums, go to the hospital and still end up owing more money then someone without insurance. This is a major driver for families into bankruptcy and also appears to be a major reason why everyday consumers can't seem to get out of debt and get a little money in the bank. Between hospitals, medical providers, and health insurers, it seems that there are no good actors and everyone is just crushing consumers with confusing and rigged pricing schemes that are motivated by what they can get away with in terms of profits. This is truly eye opening stuff.