4. Into Thin Air

“A child of five would understand this. Send someone to fetch a child of five.”

Groucho Marx

The fact is that about one-quarter of our hard-earned healthcare dollars simply vanish into thin air, and they disappear without providing a single medical good or service. Following these dollars often leads to bizarre and counter-intuitive findings. The common denominator among all of them is an American healthcare system that is unplanned, highly fragmented, and running counter to common sense. It’s making us pay more than we should for everything from routine checkups to brain surgery. How charges are set and medical bills are paid are classic examples of how this can happen.

How Much Is That Surgery in the Window?

Prices matter. ...

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