Bitter Pill Analysis

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“Bitter Pill” is a TIME magazine cover story published by American Journalist Steven Brill in February, 2013. This long report has investigated the egregious billing practice by the hospitals and their executives, and the way how they are using the system in order to maximize their profits. In this extensive and pointed exposé of healthcare cost in the US, Steven Brill has documented several case studies of patients who received disproportionate hospital bills that had little relationship to the care provided in the hospitals. He pointed out some of major factors that contributes to this unjustifiable medical bills in US, e.g., the hospitals’ gratuitous Chargemaster rates, unnecessary laboratory tests, unjustifiable costs of medical items, …show more content…
For instance, American Hospital Association has criticized it by saying the article ‘contains some inaccurate or misleading statements’ [Ref. 2]. But the most popular free-market-centric arguments against “Bitter Pill” was made by Christopher J. Conover, a research scholar at Center for Health Policy and Inequalities Research at Duke University. According to Conover, the major “myths” mentioned in “Bitter Pill” are -“US outcomes are no better and often worse than in other countries”, “The US spends 27% more per capita than other countries”, “Drug prices in the US are, on average, 50% higher than in other developed countries”, “Excess prices = Excess profits”, and “Medicare administration is more efficient than private health insurers” [Ref. 3]. In his series of articles published in FORBES magazine, he argued that these “myths” were amplified (intentionally) in order to make US health care system look bad and tried to refute these “myths”. Nevertheless, he added that there were some take-aways for health care system from “Bitter Pill” and included some suggestions in order to regulate the health cost more effectively, e.g., by merging of insurance companies, implementing mal-practice reform laws or a safe-harbor provision, creating awareness among cost-unconscious customers by reducing third party payment, and decreasing governmental regulatory authority on health care [Ref. …show more content…
Firstly, while refuting the point “US outcomes are no better and often worse than in other countries”, Conover argued that US has many more violent deaths, e.g., deaths from homicide, automobile accidents in comparison to other industrialized nations. Since these violence-related deaths mainly arise from different social and lifestyle choices, life expectancy of countries which include these violence-related deaths do not reflect the quality of health care system. However, this conclusion drawn by Conover cannot be completely justified, as according to US Department of Justice, approximately 41% victims of violence went to hospital emergency room to seek medical attention [Ref. 5]. So, even the violence-related injuries and deaths represent, to an extent, the quality of health care system. In addition, Conover pointed that we should not hold hospitals and doctors fully responsible for infant mortality number, as it is heavily influenced by poverty, maternal habit, and teen pregnancy. But it is the higher cost of health care in US creating a low access to health care which may contribute to poor health outcomes to mothers and newborns [Ref. 6,11]. Secondly, while trying to justify much more spending on health care per capita by US, Conover pointed to the data (GDP per capita

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