The following talk on runaway healthcare costs is from a lecture given by Dr David Belk. The 54 minute video is below.
Example One. Amlodopine is used to treat high blood pressure. It costs the patient $10 a month to buy through his insurance carrier. Without insurance Walgreens sells a 90 day supply for $12 and Costco charges $28.95 for a year. Most brand name medications are 100 times more expensive than their generic counterparts.
The doctor did not say but the Mayo Clinic lists these side effects for Amlodopine: Swelling of the ankles or feet. Less common: Difficult or labored breathing. Dizziness. Fast irregular pounding or racing heartbeat or pulse. Feeling of warmth. Redness of the face, neck, arms, and occasionally, upper chest. Shortness of breath. Tightness in the chest and Wheezing. Rare: Black, tarry stools. Bleeding gums. Blistering, peeling, or loosening of the skin. Blood in the urine or stools. Blurred vision. Burning, crawling, itching, numbness, prickling, “pins and needles”, or tingling feelings. Chest pain or discomfort. Chills. Cold and clammy skin. Cold sweats. Confusion. Dark yellow urine. Cough. Diarrhea. Dilated neck veins. Dizziness or lightheadedness when getting up from a lying or sitting position. Extra heartbeats. Extreme fatigue. Fainting. Fever. Itching of the skin. Joint or muscle pain. Large, hive-like swelling on the face, eyelids, lips, tongue, throat, hands, legs, feet, or sex organs. Numbness and tingling of the face, fingers, or toes. Pain in the arms, legs, or lower back, especially pain in the calves or heels upon exertion. Painful or difficult urination. Pale, bluish-colored, or cold hands or feet. Pinpoint red or purple spots on the skin. Red, irritated eyes. Redness of the face, neck, arms, and occasionally, upper chest. Redness, soreness or itching skin. Shakiness in the legs, arms, hands, or feet. Slow or irregular heartbeat. Sore throat. Sores, ulcers, or white spots on the lips or in the mouth. Sores, welting, or blisters. Sudden sweating. Sweating, Swelling of the face, fingers, feet, or lower legs. Swollen glands. Trembling or shaking of the hands or feet. Unsteadiness or awkwardness. Unusual bleeding or bruising. Unusual tiredness or weakness.Weak or absent pulses in the legs. Weakness in the arms, hands, legs, or feet.Weight gain and Yellow eyes or skin.
The above side effects are also a cost of the healthcare system. I have elsewhere suggested that drug companies not be allowed to conduct trials. These are expensive and less than useless because they allow the Pharmaceutical companies to fudge the data. I would test all drugs against known home remedies. For example, I would test all existing diabetes drugs against 5,000 IU of Vitamin D3 and two doses of cinnamon daily. The drug companies would supply the drugs and the alternatives to the hospitals who choose to participate. If the drugs fail to beat the alternatives, I would then allow the drug companies to sell their products but only at a fair market price and without insurance company subsidies. That will kill Big Pharma really quick.
Dr David Belk is focused on costs rather than alternative treatments. He says that if you buy generics, you will pay more using your copay than if you bought these same drugs paying cash.
Some Brand name drugs without generics can run up from thousands of dollars a month to more than ten thousand dollars. The Drug companies extend their patents through the courts.
He suggests that you talk to the doctor about costs to see if there is an alternative Brand that does have a generic equivalent.
Office Visits: Dr Belk says most doctors have no idea how much they get paid for an office visit. That is because each insurance company the doctor bills has a different schedule of payments in convoluted fashions. Most office visits cost about $80. Doctors over bill their insurance companies to make sure they are paid the maximum that each individual company will allow. If you pay cash for a doctor, you will need a schedule of fees in advance to avoid being over charged.
Hospital Billing: Hospitals want to guarantee they will be paid the maximum allowed so they bill up to ten times what they hope to receive. They discount the final bill to get it down to what the insurance company was finally willing to pay.
Diagnostic Tests: A Comprehensive Metabolic Panel can be charged $179 by the hospital when they only expect to get paid $15. A Lipid Panel can be charged $68 when they only expect $19 on the final bill. A Complete Blood Count can be charged $51 when the hospital only expects to be paid $10. An Echocardiogram can be billed $4,361 but will be settled between $317 and $291. An Exercise Stress Test can be billed at $1,182 but will be settled for $123. An MRI is often billed for about $3,500 initially but settled at between $578 and $654.
Because we use insurance to pay for everything the Insurance companies are in complete control of everything so they can tell us whatever they want about the cost of healthcare. People with high deductible insurance are intentionally over billed by their insurance companies. Malpractice has been dropping in cost over the past ten years. Most clinical doctors in Dr Belk’s area of California pay $3,000 a year for Malpractice insurance.
We have fewer hospitals today than in 1985 despite having 30% more people and the age of the average person having risen 6 years. Because we have stricter standards for admissions most hospitals where he lives have vacancy rates (empty beds) running about 50%.
Medical treatments are more efficient and actually cost less. So where is all that money going? He suggests we stop using hospitals and insurance for services that can be provided elsewhere until they are willing to treat cash customers fairly.
I would suggest that hospitals be required to post prices for tests, drugs, procedures and doctor visits. Reform health insurance to allow Health Savings Accounts for patients to pay cash. This will eliminate paper work and drive down costs overnight.
Dr Belk does say that one of the few things more broken than the healthcare system is our politics. American politicians are neither leaders nor followers. They have to be dragged by their hair to get them to do anything. He sees no hope of change until everyone in America becomes really angry and a sufficient number of us have done our home work to fully understand the sources of our problems. His website has more information and is being updated continually.
I would suggest that since America has more obese people and the most toxic diet in the world that we also change that. I would make dangerous vaccine additives illegal along with Fluoride, MSG, Aspartame, Bisphenol A and a few other things like GMO food though it will take awhile to weed the latter out of the agricultural system. The US ranks 72nd in health out of 191 countries. In infant mortality America ranks number 49. I will have to address this in a future article.
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