Map of life expectancy at birth from Global Education Project.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Free Money!

As the 4 1/2 people who were reading this blog five or six years ago already know, a long time ago, in a galaxy far far away -- 1991 to be precise, in Boston, Massachusetts -- I underwent major surgery consisting of a right hemicolectomy. (They thought I had cancer but er, I did not. I would like my parts back.)

Anyway, the point of the story is, I had insurance, but the hospital and various physicians associated with my disembowelment didn't think the insurance paid them enough for their excessively superior services and sent me various bills amounting to -- seriously -- $25,000, which back in those days was a lot of money. Since the surgeon screwed the whole thing up and caused my extended hospital stay and expensive complications by his own incompetence, I obviously told them to TAFFOARD, which they did.

I was in surgery for more than 7 hours, so the anesthesiologist, who had already been paid about $150/hour by the insurance company IIRC, sent me a bill for an additional $250/hour, since he makes, you know, $400/hour. (The hospital had billed separately, about $350/hour, for the privilege of being anesthetized on its premises, so this was for personal services only.)

I wrote back and told the guy that he had already been paid by the insurance company, that the amount they paid was quite enough, that nobody deserved to make $400 an hour especially for a routine technical service that is commonly provided by a registered nurse making a modest salary, and that he was a disgusting greedhead who, as he sat on his yacht stirring a martini, should contemplate the many hard working people who he had ruined by his sickening avarice. I didn't hear back.

Well, I was right. Anesthesiologists nowadays make about $300,000 a year. Why? Beats the hell out of me.

Dulisse and Cromwell find (sorry, you worthless scum are only allowed to read the abstract) that in states where Medicare allows nurse anesthetists to work independently, there is absolutely no evidence of worse outcomes for patients or more adverse events. Nurse anesthetists make about $100,000 a year. They didn't go to medical school, but they have the exact same training in anesthesiology as physician anesthesiologists.

The bottom line for me is pretty obvious. There is no reason for the medical specialty of anesthesiology to exist. The whole thing is a ripoff. Or, they could settle for $100,000 a year.


C. Corax said...

I'm trying to play catch-up here. Haven't had much blog reading time since May.

I followed your posts recounting your experience in the hospital, but I never saw the conclusion to the story. At what point did the fine medical professionals there realize that you didn't have cancer after all? What I'm driving at it did they try to gouge you AFTER they knew they had screwed up?

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