Imagine: You’re in a small town miles from anywhere when your car breaks down. There’s only one repair shop. Your repair bill includes three diagnostics — one at the beginning, a second to make sure the first one was right, and a third after the repair in case the mechanic replaced the wrong part — plus charges for the mechanic’s overalls, grease rags and each tool used to fix it. The part he replaces, which you could buy at Pep Boys for $49.95, is billed at $495 plus separate charges for each bushing and bolt that came in the box with it. The labor includes a second charge for the coworker who looked at the engine briefly while the mechanic was in the loo. And there’s a separate charge for the repair shop itself. Thank God you didn’t drink any coffee while you were there.
This is just a taste of what hospital billing is like.
David Catron chortles in The American Spectator over the success of Circle Holdings in turning around Hinchingbrooke Hospital, near Huntingdon in Cambridgeshire, the poster child for everything people say is wrong with Britain’s National Health System and socialized medicine in general. “This is the first time such a company has been given control of an NHS hospital and the results will not come as a surprise to anyone who understands free enterprise.”
It will also come as no surprise to those who believe the market provides the most efficient health care delivery model that, in addition to dramatically improving the financial prospects, privatization has improved patient satisfaction. Before Hinchingbrooke was taken over by Circle Holdings, patients had a very low opinion of the hospital and the care it provided. Now, this perception is dramatically improved: “Patient satisfaction has risen to 85 per cent, placing Hinchingbrooke in the top six of the East of England’s 46 hospitals.”