Farewell. The Flying Pig Has Left The Building.

Steve Hynd, August 16, 2012

After four years on the Typepad site, eight years total blogging, Newshoggers is closing it's doors today. We've been coasting the last year or so, with many of us moving on to bigger projects (Hey, Eric!) or simply running out of blogging enthusiasm, and it's time to give the old flying pig a rest.

We've done okay over those eight years, although never being quite PC enough to gain wider acceptance from the partisan "party right or wrong" crowds. We like to think we moved political conversations a little, on the ever-present wish to rush to war with Iran, on the need for a real Left that isn't licking corporatist Dem boots every cycle, on America's foreign misadventures in Afghanistan and Iraq. We like to think we made a small difference while writing under that flying pig banner. We did pretty good for a bunch with no ties to big-party apparatuses or think tanks.

Those eight years of blogging will still exist. Because we're ending this typepad account, we've been archiving the typepad blog here. And the original blogger archive is still here. There will still be new content from the old 'hoggers crew too. Ron writes for The Moderate Voice, I post at The Agonist and Eric Martin's lucid foreign policy thoughts can be read at Democracy Arsenal.

I'd like to thank all our regular commenters, readers and the other bloggers who regularly linked to our posts over the years to agree or disagree. You all made writing for 'hoggers an amazingly fun and stimulating experience.

Thank you very much.

Note: This is an archive copy of Newshoggers. Most of the pictures are gone but the words are all here. There may be some occasional new content, John may do some posts and Ron will cross post some of his contributions to The Moderate Voice so check back.


Thursday, May 31, 2012

HCR/ FYI -- lower prices for paying cash

By John Ballard

I've mentioned this several times but it bears repeating. Paying cash for medical procedures and tests can save lots of money. But don't expect that money-saving hint to appear like napkins in your take-out. You gotta ask. 

Many hospitals and physicians are offering large discounts if patients pay in cash and don't use their health insurance, the Los Angeles Times reported.

For example, a CT scan of the abdomen costs about $2,400 for patients insured by Blue Shield of California, while the Los Alamitos (Calif.) Medical Center cash price is only $250, according to the article. Another local California hospital charges insured patients $415 for blood tests that cost only $95 in cash.

To get the discounted prices, patients would have to withhold insurance information from hospitals, noted the LA Times. But experts caution against that because cash payments don't apply to patients' annual out-of-pocket spending limits for health insurance.

However, most patients don't know about the discounted cash prices. One such patient sued Blue Shield of California last month for unfair business practices, breach of good faith and misrepresentation over her medical bills after she was charged $2,336 for a CT scan that would have cost her $1,054 in cash, according to the article.

Despite state laws requiring better price transparency, the industry still faces barriers such as competition between insurers and providers. Boosting patient awareness of low cash prices could help strengthen transparency throughout the industry and control escalating healthcare costs. A lack of price transparency costs the United States about $36 billion a year in healthcare overspending, according to a February Thomson Reuters survey.

Make a mental note -- if you don't ask you may never fid out. It's better to ask and hear "No" than to fail to ask and pay more for your failure to inquire. 

Every time I put up another post like this I am reminded what a sad commentary it is on the American health care system. Caveat emptor is not a bad dictum if you're shopping for a car or even a new house. But in the name of humanity, why must we be so wary when seeking health care?

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