If you think you're having a heart attack...

...make sure it's not heartburn. Time magazine has a special issue on the costs of medical care. One of the examples looks at the $21,000 a woman, who thought she was having a heart attack, was charged for three hours in a Connecticut emergency room. She was told she had indigestion. Maybe that's worth $21,000, but she had to pay it herself since she had no insurance.The very long article by Steve Brill is currently available here (though I just bought a print copy at the newsstand). The bottom line is that we Americans are spending ourselves to death through over-priced hospitals, over-priced tests, over-priced technology and drugs, and over-priced hospital administrators and doctors. If the Affordable Health Care Act is to be effective, it will have to take on these gougers.AND...non-profit hospitals are among the biggest offenders. Read it and get indigestion!

Margaret O'Brien Steinfels, a former editor of Commonweal, writes frequently in these pages.

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