4/01/2008

How much will it cost?

An unhappy patient wrote to Today complaining about surcharge on a Good Friday. He had to pay $9 more to a GP. The article also said that some charge as much as $30 during a holiday. It is at the discretion of the clinics. What the letter writer was asking is that shouldn't the patient be told of the charges in advance, a case of transparency. In the $70k case I posted earlier, I am not sure if the patient and his family were given an estimate of how much it will cost prior to admission. I am wondering if they would admit him if the estimate is so high or may even admit him to other hospitals. $70k is no mean sum and not everyone can afford to pay even with whatever shield and insurance. It must be made compulsory for all hospitals to give an estimate of the cost and if more are expected, to let the patient know in advance. It cannot be a case of being admitted and be at the mercy of the hospital to have full discretion to do whatever it wants and charges whatever it likes. The patient has a right to know before hand how it will hurt his pocket and decide to go ahead with it.

3 comments:

Matilah_Singapura said...

As long as people are informed on what the price is BEFORE a transaction, any surcharge is justified.

If you don't ask the hospital for an estimate for a course of treatment, you are a bloody fool who needs to be whacked in the head with a changkul, to maybe wake up your ideas.

Anyone who believes that prices should "stay the same" fro holidays or after a disruption in supply like a natural disaster, should be whacked in the head with a changkul and then kicked in the crotch - just to make sure the message gets through!

redbean said...

matilah, don't confuse between a private business for profit and a public service to serve the people.

oops, there is no such thing as a public service to serve the people. it is all profit oriented or self serving.

Matilah_Singapura said...

All 'profit' is self-serving. Even the 'psychological profit' gained by Mother Theresa is self-serving - i.e. she chose to 'help the poor' because that accorded with her 'values'. We all make choices to achieve our (individual and personal) values.

The 'greater value' is that which you did not have before you made the choice to exchange (or give up) what you value less to get what you value more, and that difference after the exchange is 'profit'.

Mother Theresa had to give up many (what she considered to be) lesser values—like her time, energy, opportunity for material wealth etc—to achieve her greater value of being the human being she was.

Similarly in a material exchange—say I buy a newspaper for, say $1. I value my $1 less than I do the paper, therefore I willfully exchange the $1 for the newspaper which is of greater value to me.

On the other side of the exchange—the producer of the newspaper values his product less than the $1 I'm willing to exchange for it.

In voluntary exchange both parties "make a profit" in the ex-ante sense — i.e. when the decision to exchange was made. Sometimes in the ex-post (after the exchange) there might be "regret" (negative profit - a "loss), but ex-ante, there is always a belief of a profit gain, otherwise the voluntary transaction would not occur in the first place.