Bryan Caplan  

The Ministry of Silly Hospitals

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Check out these true Monty Python-esque dialogues between a series of hospitals and a guy who wants an affordable colonoscopy. First dialogue:

Conversation with Stanford Hospital:

Me:

My wife needs a colonoscopy: Could you give me a price on it?

Stanford Hospital: (businesslike tone)

Twenty five hundred to thirty five hundred.

Me:

You do this all the time. Can’t you give me a
specific price?

Stanford Hospital: (cooler tone)

Sorry

Me:

Is $3500 the all up, all included price to both
myself and my insurance?

Stanford Hospital: (businesslike tone)

It only includes the doctors fee, and does not include any additional services

Me:

So after I have this done, any number of people could then charge me any fee they like in addition to the thirty five hundred?

Stanford Hospital: (distinctly chilly tone)

I am afraid so.

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COMMENTS (4 to date)
ringemann writes:

hey, care to listen to the european version of this dialoque. it goes like this:

Me:
My wife needs a colonoscopy. Can you give me an appointment.

Hospital:
Yes....(searching)...Ok, the next open slot will be in x week(s) (x = 1-2 Germany,France....4 in Britain)

Me: Ok! What do I have to pay?

Hospital:
ehhhh....Pardon?

Me: just joking...

liberty writes:

Or you have the European version that goes like this:

Me: I think I need an MRI.

Hospital: I'm sorry, your paperwork says you don't. Only those with conditions 13-24 can have an MRI.

Me: But, I would certainly get one in the U.S. ...

Hospital: This isn't the US.

Me: Can I pay extra and get an MRI?

Hospital: If you go to the US you probably could.

John Thacker writes:

ringemann:

Huh? In France and Germany (the ones with the lower waiting times) there definitely are out of pocket payments. Lower than the US, to be sure, but you will get a bill and owe money.

From a guide to new arrivals in Germany:

The downside is that medical costs are high. Health care costs - for doctors, hospital stays and even medicines - are among the most expensive in the world. There is no such thing as "free" treatment in Germany, not even in state hospitals. All care, including emergencies, has to be paid for by you or your health insurance!

John Thacker writes:

The above link, BTW, is mostly aimed at Brits (and perhaps Canadians) who will be shocked at having to pay money (and quite a lot by their standards) at state hospitals and having to carry healthy insurance (but enjoy the lack of waiting lists), not Americans.

Actually, I guess it might also be aimed at badly misinformed Americans like ringemann too.

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