The biggest hustle of all are health care costs - period.
I consider myself very fortunate. I have very good retiree health insurance. A recent emergency, no surgery, three day - two night stay in Toledo Hospital produced this bill in round numbers:
Total billed costs, all providers and the hospital $43,000
Insurance discounts $35,500
Insurance actually paid $7,500
Our out of pocket deductibles $700
The gap between what the providers accept and what they bill just stunned us. Especially since we know that if we hadn't had insurance, they would have come after us for the full $43,000. There is no logical reason for there to be such a wide gap between what the providers bill and what they actually accept. The entire health care cost system is rigged. Its impossible to know what anything should really cost and its impossible to be a smart health care consumer under these conditions. And you're really over a barrel if you have an emergency situation.
This is what people without health insurance face.
There needs to be an understandable public data base of medical costs, fees and charges available to the consumer by region, that allows the consumer to compare hospital, doctor and ancillary providers' charges. There will be absolutley no stopping the annual double digit cost increases in health care costs until all providers have to publicly make availble their fees, to allow for comparison, and by exposure, be forced to justify them.
This information sits in every health insurance company's computer system. They all operate under the identical billing code system. Health insurance companies should be forced to make the data public. The big risk in doing this for the insurance companies is that they, in turn, would have to justify the cost of your insurance bill. They won't ever do this voluntarily because they make too much money with the current rigged system.
No elected official will ever propose this. They're paid off by campaign contributions from big pharma, insurance companies and anybody else making a buck from the current system. Most of those individuals who are fortunate enough to have health insurance don't really give a damn either because they, personally, are OK. They don't have the risk of an unexpected $43,000 bill. We live in a very selfish nation right now. The US will just continue to pay more for health care than any other industrialized country in the world and receive less in return for their health care dollar than any other industrialized country in the world until the GDP collapses under the weight. Then it will be too late. It's honest to God hopeless.