Steven Brill

  • Aired:  02/21/13
  •  | Views: 18,657

Court TV founder Steven Brill details the irrational market forces that drive the American health care industry. (6:22)

TONIGHT A JOURNALIST WHO HAS WRITTEN "BITTER PILL" WHY MEDICAL BILLS ARE KILLING US.

PLEASE WELCOME TO THE PROGRAM STEPHEN BRILL.

[CHEERS AND APPLAUSE]

THIS IS -- THANKS FOR COMING ON.

THIS IS AN UNBELIEVABLE ARTICLE.

IT'S CALLED WHY MEDICAL BILLS ARE KILLING US.

I'M ACCUSTOMED TO BEING ANGRY --

[LAUGHTER]

-- WHEN I READTIME MAGAZINE.

-- READ "TIME" MAGAZINE COVER STORIES MOSTLY BECAUSE IT'S LIKE" ARE ANGELS REAL"?

BUT THIS IS 36 PAGES OF INCREDIBLY THOROUG JOURNAL -- I FORGOT HOW TO PRONOUNCE IT.

>> COULD YOU CALL IT REPORTING.

>> Jon: REPORTING.

>> THERE YOU GO.

>> Jon: THIS IS THE KIND OF THING THAT I CANNOT BELIEVE DURING THIS ENTIRE DEBATE OVER

OBAMACARE COMPREHENSIVE REPORTING OF HEALTH CARE COSTS WAS NOT OUT THERE.

>> THAT DROVE ME CRAZY, TOO.

I WAS CURIOUS ABOUT THE FIRST QUESTION.

WE DEBATED THE SECOND QUESTION WHICH IS WHO SHOULD PAY THE HIGH BILLS.

WE NEVER ASKED THE FIRST QUESTION WHICH IS WHY ARE THE BILLS SO HIGH.

>> Jon: RIGHT.

>> THAT'S WHAT IT'S ABOUT.

IT FOLLOWS THE MONEY.

BILL BY BILL.

SEVEN BILLS.

TELLS YOU WHO IS MAKING WHAT MONEY.

>> Jon: I THINK PEOPLE WOULD BE SURPRISED THAT NOT FOR PROFIT HOSPITAL MAKE A LOT OF MONEY.

>> THEY MAKE A TON OF MONEY AND THE C.E.O.S OF YOUR LOCAL HOSPITAL IN ANY TOWN OR CITY IN

THIS COUNTRY ARE TYPICALLY THE BEST PAID C.E.O.S IN TOWN IF IT'S A SMALL TOWN.

>> Jon: NOW, WHAT YOU FOUND IS VERY LITTLE CORRELATION BETWEEN WHAT THEY CHARGE YOU AND WHAT

THINGS COST.

>> EXACTLY RIGHT.

>> WHY SHOULD THERE BE?

IF YOU BUY SHOES, A RICH GUY LIKE YOU BUYING A $200 PAIR --

>> Jon: SURE.

LET ME SAY THIS TIMBERLAND'S DON'T COME CHEAP.

>> NO, I KNOW.

YOU GO TO A STORE AND WANT TO BUY SHOES.

>> Jon: THAT'S RIGHT.

>> INSTEAD OF $200 THE GUY SAYS THAT IS $6,000.

YOU CAN DECIDE NOT TO BUY THE SHOES.

BETTER YET YOU CAN GO UP THE BLOCK AND SEE IF THEY HAVE A DIFFERENT PRICE.

NONE OF THAT HAPPENS WITH HEALTH CARE.

YOU ARE AN INVOLUNTARY ENTERING TO THE MARKETPLACE.

YOU DON'T WAKE UP AND SAY I WANT TO GO TO THE EMERGENCY ROOM AND SEE WHAT IS FOR SALE.

>> Jon: MAYBE I'LL VISIT A FEW AND SEE THE BEST PLACE TO GET MY APRIL DISTRICT MI -- APPENDECTOMY?

>> RIGHT.

THERE'S NO MARKETPLACE IN THE MOST IMPORTANT SENSE OF THE DEFINITION DOES THE BUYER HAVE

ANY POWER AT ALL.

THE BUYER DOESN'T BUY VOLUNTARILY.

THEY HAVE NO IDEA WHAT THE PRICE IS AND IF THE BUYER DID HAVE ANY IDEA HE WOULDN'T HAVE A CHOICE

BECAUSE A DOCTOR SENT HIM TO THAT HOSPITAL OR SAID YOU NEED THAT BLOOD TEST OR THAT CAT SCAN

AND THE RESULT IS PREDICABLE WHICH IS WHAT YOU HAVE HERE.

EVERYBODY IS MAKING A TON OF MONEY EXCEPT THE DOCTORS AND THE NURSES.

BUT THE PEOPLE WHO MAKE THE EQUIPMENT WHETHER IT'S CANES OR CAT SCANS.

>> Jon: RIGHT.

>> THE PEOPLE WHO RUN LABS AND TESTS AND GOD KNOWS THE PEOPLE WHO RUN THE HOSPITAL THEY ARE

MAKING A TON OF MONEY.

>> WE LIVE IN AN ALTERNATE UNIVERSE.

THERE ARE TWO ECONOMIES IN THIS COUNTRY.

THERE'S THE ECONOMIES OF ALL OF US AND THE ISLAND, HEALTH CARE ECONOMY.

WE'VE HAD A PRETTY ROUGH TIME OVER THE LAST FOUR OR FIVES, SIX YEARS IN OUR ECONOMY.

THERE'S A LOT OF UNEMPLOYMENT, A LOT OF PRESSURE ON US.

NOT ON THAT ISLAND.

EVERYBODY JUST KEEPS MAKING MORE MONEY.

>> Jon: RIGHT.

>> IT'S AS IF THEY DON'T EXIST IN THE UNIVERSE AND WORST OF ALL, THE MONEY THEY ARE MAKING

THEY ARE TAKING FROM ALL OF US AND BANKRUPTING THE COUNTRY AND IT'S BANKRUPTING PEOPLE.

60% OF THE PERSONAL BANKRUPTCIES IN THIS COUNTRY COME FROM MEDICAL BILLS.

>> Jon: WHAT IS CRAZY TO ME IS WHEN YOU BEGIN TO TEASE IT APART.

WHEN YOU BEGIN TO DECONSTRUCT IT, IT'S MADE OF SAND.

AS I'M READING IT'S 36 PAGES.

AS YOU GET HIGHER AND HIGHER IN THE PAGES YOU FEEL LIKE CHUCK YAEGER BREAKING THE SOUND BARRIER.

I WAS LIKE OH, MY GOD.

BY PAGE TEN I WAS LIKE I CAN'T TAKE IT ANYMORE.

THERE'S SOMETHING -- YOU CANNOT BELIEVE THIS.

THERE'S SOMETHING CALLED THE CHARGE MASTER.

>> RIGHT.

>> Jon: AND THE CHARGE MASTER SETS THE PRICE.

SO IF YOU WANT AN MRI THAT'S $6,000 ACCORDING TO THE CHARGE MASTER.

IF YOU GOOD THROUGH MEDICARE IT'S $500.

THE CHARGE MASTER SAYS $6,000.

>> BUT THE CHARGE MASTER IS -- THE BRIDGEPORT CONNECTICUT HOSPITAL SAYS $6,000 AND

STAMFORD DOWN THE ROAD MAY SAY $2,000 AND NOBODY CAN EXPLAIN IT.

>> Jon: WHEN YOU ASKED ABOUT CHARGE MASTER THEY SAY WHAT TO YOU?

>> PAY NO ATTENTION.

MOST PEOPLE DON'T PAY IT.

INSURANCE COMPANIES GET A DISCOUNT.

THEY GET A DISCOUNT OFF THE CHARGE MASTER.

IF I SELL YOU A $200, YOU KNOW SURGEON'S GOWN.

YOU PAY FOR A SURGEONS GOWN IN THE OPERATING ROOM IN ADDITION TO PAYING FOR THE ROOM.

IF I CHARGE YOU $200 AND YOU CAN GO ON eBAY AND WIE -- BUY IT FOR $6 THE INSURANCE COMPANY

GETS A DISCOUNT DOWN TO $100 NOT SUCH A GREAT DEAL BUT YOU FEEL GREAT WHEN YOU GET THE

EXPLANATION OF BENEFITS.

THAT WAS GREAT I ONLY HAVE TO 20% OF THAT $100.

WHAT A DEAL.

>> Jon: STICK AROUND.

THE LATEST ISSUE OF "TIME" MAGAZINE.

I DON'T THINK I'VE EVER SAID THIS BEFORE, GO OUT AND GET "TIME" MAGAZINE.

IT'S UNBELIEVABLE.

Loading...