Imagine staggering into a restaurant and waiting 2 hours for a table. Imagine this restaurant is the only one in town and you haven’t eaten in a week. When the waiter arrives, you say you like pasta. You’re never shown a menu or any prices. An hour later some version of a pasta dish arrives. A few more hours, you’re then sent on your way by a different waiter. 4 weeks later you receive a $300 multi page itemized bill for both waiters’ services, the cook you never met, restaurant fees, the pasta and all it’s ingredients. You research the ingredients further and find that the tomatoes in the sauce were slightly radioactive. Try all this in a foreign language. Include a taxi ride with a similarly delayed itemized bill.
Maybe you’ll say that restaurants and hospitals are completely different. But I’d argue that feeding and medically treating are quite similar in that both activities essentially shove people toward homeostasis. The main differences relate to choice and fear.
The article “The Agony of Medical Bills” from The Atlantic Magazine captures the absurdity in medical billing these days and aspects of the experience we who care for patients rarely see. Throughout my career I’ve been remarkably sheltered from the topic. In fact, I’ve never seen a single hospital bill of any of my patients. No joke.
I can’t repair such a system or even blame the hospitals where I work. They’re just playing by the rules set. And many of them outsource their billing. I want Pre-R to be finer dining.