I am writing about "Hospital billing on trial" (Sept. 6, p. 32). The lawsuits and news magazine exposes accusing hospitals of charging inflated prices for aspirin, syringes and more are nothing more than great theater. Although the patient charge might be 10 or 20 or even 50 times more than the cost of the product, the reality is that various overhead issues put the charge in perspective.
The cost of care from both the doctor and the nurse, the infrastructure of the hospital and new technologies that hospitals must purchase to provide better care are but a few of the major responsibilities a hospital must bear.
I have not seen any exposes analyzing what a fine restaurant charges for a glass of wine relative to the purchase price of the vintage. Similarly, if you went into a grocery store and analyzed the cost of corn-on-the-cob holders or spatulas, you might find comparable markups. What that means is not that the restaurant or the grocery store is ripping off patrons but that the businesses have overhead costs for which they must account.
Let's not make accusations with our blinders on. We need to look at the whole picture before we start accusing hospitals of charging excessive markups.
Senior vice president, corporate sales