This is the last 5×8 for a few weeks. I’m beating the end-of-season, beat-the-out-of-pocket increase, health care rush and having some work done on the Meniere’s Disease affliction. See you later in the month.
It’s “open enrollment” season at businesses that provide health insurance, and, of course, it’s “buy now” season on MNsure and Obamacare websites for those who don’t, so there’s the expected complaining about the rising cost of health insurance and weaker coverage by way of higher copays and out-of-pocket caps.
Remember when hospital bills were front and center when it came to health care complaints? Hospital charges account for a third of the U.S. health care bill and are the largest driver of health care inflation, the New York Times reports today.
A day spent as an inpatient at an American hospital costs on average more than $4,000, five times the charge in many other developed countries, according to the International Federation of Health Plans, a global network of health insurance industries. The most expensive hospitals charge more than $12,500 a day. And at many of them, including California Pacific Medical Center, emergency rooms are profit centers. That is why one of the simplest and oldest medical procedures — closing a wound with a needle and thread — typically leads to bills of at least $1,500 and often much more.
At Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, Daniel Diaz, 29, a public relations executive, was billed $3,355.96 for five stitches on his finger after cutting himself while peeling an avocado. At a hospital in Jacksonville, Fla., Arch Roberts Jr., 56, a former government employee, was charged more than $2,000 for three stitches after being bitten by a dog. At Mercy Hospital in Port Huron, Mich., Chelsea Manning, 22, a student, received bills for close to $3,000 for six stitches after she tripped running up a path. Insurers and patients negotiated lower prices, but those charges were a starting point.
Hospitals are the biggest players in the health care game, the report says, and are subject to almost no regulations and there is no cost basis for what they charge.
Related: Mayo announces $72M hospital expansion project (Minnesota Public Radio News).
It’s a shame — for the rest of us — that KSTP’s Jason Davis is retiring. He does fine work uncovering stories about everyday people, reminding us that there’s a lot more of Minnesota outside the Twin Cities, than the steady drumbeat of crooks, liars, and perverts in the news would suggest.
“I’m not moving on to do other things,” he said via the station’s website. “I’ve run my course, and I’ve achieved what I needed to achieve. There are only so many stories out there; I find it more difficult each week to find stories that are interesting and new to me.”
He leaves the station at the end of May.
The good news is that journalist David Brauer is back writing again (this time for the SW Journal). The bad news is they’re killing people in his neighborhood in Minneapolis. Or maybe it’s good news that it’s only one, and the last one was more than five years ago, and Minneapolis’ southwestern-most neighborhoods have had zero homicides in the last 10 years. Which is bad news for predominantly minority neighborhoods which live with killings as a way of life.
Yes, there’s a knock-me-over-with-a-feather aspect here: all are relatively wealthy Minneapolis neighborhoods. They’re also the whitest: every one of the past decade’s five south-of-36th victims was black or Hispanic. While homicides remain remarkable crimes, this longitudinal look only underlines thuddingly obviousness about race, class and ethnicity.
A few hours after the cop stopped by, a makeshift memorial sprung up on a garage near the crime scene. Helium hearts and stars – balloons you put in a birthday bouquet — bobbed underneath a poster with “we love you” messages signed in vibrant magic marker. It was oddly touching, but disquieting, as if the authors knew all too well what to do when a 24-year-old is gunned down.
By the next day, the poster was gone. In its place were plain, black magic-marker scrawls repeating these words: “Bang, Bang.” This too, I thought, must be familiar to people on the other side of the murder moat.
What do you do when you see bullying?
After the New York Times exposed the Minnesota Wild and the National Hockey League in its investigation of the brain damage of former enforcer Derek Boogaard, the league circled the wagons, said almost nothing, and hoped the issue would go away. It did. Wild fans still stand and whoop whenever a hockey goon drops the gloves and pummels someone else. Referees still stand back and let fights occur, while the league continues to crank out press releases about a crackdown on fighting.
Then last week A 10 former NHL players filed a class-action lawsuit claiming the NHL didn’t inform players about the perils of repetitive brain injuries.
That, the Los Angeles Times reports today, created a “stinging backlash” from hockey apologists.
Former Toronto Maple Leafs captain Rick Vaive, the best-known in the group, asked to remove his name from the suit. His lawyer, Trevor Whiffen, said in a statement Vaive “misunderstood the nature of the proceeding” and has no interest in suing the NHL.
Bombastic Canadian TV commentator and former Bruins Coach Don Cherry said he felt sorry for some players “that maybe got whacked a little” but declared the suit “a money grab.” Retired star forward Jeremy Roenick was scornful. “They can go after the league that they craved to be in since they were little kids and paid their salary,” Roenick told the Associated Press, adding he knew the risks involved but played “because I loved the game.”
Reportedly, 200 former NHL players have joined the suit but their names have not been made public. There has been no support voiced by prominent players whose careers were ended by concussions, such as Pat LaFontaine, Keith Primeau, Paul Kariya or Eric Lindros.
BONUS I: America isn’t ready for this yet, the media giant Clear Channel believes.
Clear Channel has banned the image from its billboards in New York’s Times Square. The photo is part of an advertising campaign for SnoreStop, a line of over-the-counter snoring remedies. Its slogan is “If we can keep this couple together, we can keep anyone together.”
Clear Channel says the ad is “uncomfortable.”
BONUS II: Donations at the kettles are down? Bring in the dogs. It’s like printing cash.
BONUS III: Do the moneyed elite lack the patience for classical music? (State of the Arts)
BONUS IV: Shannon Gibney, MCTC prof, also took heat for structural racism comments in 2009 (City Pages).
WHAT WE’RE DOING
Daily Circuit (9-12 p.m.) – First hour: The social cost of long term unemployment.
Second hour: Comet ISON and the latest in space news.
Third hour: Holiday movies.
MPR News Presents (12-1 pm) – A new Intelligence Squared debate: Does Domestic Spying Keep Us Safe?
The Takeaway (1-2 p.m.) – TBA
All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) – Stadium officials, the Vikings and other dignitaries will have the official groundbreaking for the new Vikings stadium. They have 940 days to finish it off. MPR’s Tim Nelson will have the story.
It’s been almost three years since the revolution in Egypt. And instead of bringing stability there is now a battle over competing versions of recent events. Activists say the military led government is cleansing the past and there is no public pressure to hold them to account. NPR looks at shaping history in Egypt.