A primer, health incentives and more: The roundup

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One of my favorite bloggers, who goes by the handle Maxine Udall, Girl Economist, wrote a piece not long ago about explaining the health-care marketplace to her dad. “How, I asked myself, do I explain health and health care to him? The information asymmetries; the third-party (insurance) payment that insulates purchasers from prices and prices […]

The debate about screening

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Screening and prevention are huge issues in medicine today. We all know that knowing early is better than knowing late, so we all screen: it’s like having your teeth cleaned and minding your credit score. Why not screen? Insurance pays, after all, and so…. Here’s a nuanced take on the issue, from Gary Schwitzer of […]

Bills vs. Reimbursement, or Where Does the Money Go?

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One of my friends is a doctor practicing in New York City, and he’s not enthusiastic about insurance companies. I asked him about his fees, and he explained that for an average office visit, he bills $200 – but he doesn’t know what he will receive from the insurance company. (He’s a specialist, though to […]

Around the Web

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A modest roundup of cost-related news. Pregnancy blocks in individual health insurance plans — many individual health policies lack maternity-care coverage and feature costly add-ons. “…individual health insurance policies generally don’t cover most of the expenses for a normal [pregnancy] delivery, according to a report last month by the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which […]

Another vote for transparency

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The number of people working for transparency in health care costs is growing. Drivers of this trend include the inexorable rise in costs, the results of that trend  and the health reform bill the Obama administration fought so hard for. Here’s one take on the issue: “…High health care costs create significant suffering for American […]

‘Dump the sick’

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“My name is Wendell Potter, and for twenty years, I worked as a senior executive at health insurance companies, and I saw how they confuse their customers and dump the sick — all so they can satisfy their Wall Street investors.” The writer is  a former Cigna executive who has written a book about his […]

How much does a colonoscopy cost? Part 2

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How much does a colonoscopy cost? Part 2

If you were looking for an answer to this question, you might go ask your insurance company. Mine – United HealthCare — has a treatment cost estimator online.  (Wait, should I link here to the news story about United Healthcare and price-fixing? To www.myuhc.com web site, with the happy strawberries? To the Wikipedia article, with some […]

How much does a colonoscopy cost? Part 1

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The consumer heading into a medical procedure rarely knows what it will cost. Quite often, the actual out-of-pocket figure isn’t known until the insurance company is done with its calculations, and sends the consumer (and the provider) a bill. That’s the routine, but it seems odd. The answer to “what does it cost?” might be […]

The $1,416.51 Drug Markup

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Not long ago, I developed a sharp awareness of the costs of medical care. One motivating factor was an anesthesia bill for a 30-minute operation at a suburban New York City hospital in March 2007 to remove hardware inserted to fix a broken leg.  The anesthesia bill, about $6,000, was triple the size of the […]


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Hi, thanks for visiting. I’m Jeanne Pinder, a longtime journalist with a deep interest in health care and a great deal of experience (and frustration) with sorting through medical statements and trying to understand them. Among the biggest questions in health care today are these: Why can’t I know what medical procedures and items will […]