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The Bitter Pill Article: A Must-Read for Anyone Who Cares About Their Health and Their Money



Bitter Pill: Why Medical Bills Are Killing Us




Have you ever received a medical bill that made your jaw drop? Have you ever wondered why you have to pay thousands of dollars for a simple procedure or a routine checkup? Have you ever felt helpless and frustrated by the complexity and opacity of the health care system in the United States?




Bitter Pill Time Magazine Article Pdf Download



If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you should read the Bitter Pill article by Steven Brill. It is a groundbreaking investigation that exposes the shocking truth behind the high cost of health care in America. It reveals how hospitals, doctors, drug companies, insurance companies, and other players in the industry exploit their power and influence to charge outrageous prices for their services and products, while leaving patients with crippling debts and no recourse.


In this article, we will summarize the main findings of the Bitter Pill article, explain how to access it online, and discuss why it is important to read it. By the end of this article, you will have a better understanding of the problems and challenges facing the health care system in the United States, and what you can do to protect yourself and your loved ones from its predatory practices.


The main findings of the Bitter Pill article




The Bitter Pill article is based on seven months of research by Steven Brill, a journalist and lawyer who interviewed hundreds of patients, doctors, hospital executives, lawyers, economists, and policy experts. He also analyzed thousands of pages of bills, invoices, contracts, court documents, and other records. He focused on several case studies of patients who received astronomical bills for their medical treatments, ranging from cancer surgery to appendectomy.


The article reveals three main findings that explain why medical bills are killing us:


How hospitals charge exorbitant prices for common services and products




One of the most shocking revelations of the Bitter Pill article is how hospitals charge exorbitant prices for common services and products that have little or nothing to do with the quality or complexity of care. For example:


  • A patient was charged $1.50 for a single generic acetaminophen tablet (the same as Tylenol), which costs only $0.004 at Walmart.



  • A patient was charged $77 for a box of gauze pads that costs $7.90 online.



  • A patient was charged $18,000 for a CT scan that costs $250 at a nearby clinic.



  • A patient was charged $13,702 for an overnight stay in a recovery room that was not even used.



These are just some examples of the markups and hidden fees that hospitals add to their bills. According to Brill, these charges are based on a secret document called a chargemaster, which is a list of prices for every service and product that a hospital provides. The chargemaster is not regulated by the government or the market, and it is not based on the actual cost or value of the service or product. Instead, it is determined by the hospital's own discretion, and it is often inflated to maximize profits.


Another factor that contributes to the high prices is the use of billing codes, which are standardized codes that describe the diagnosis and treatment of a patient. Billing codes are supposed to make billing more efficient and accurate, but they also create opportunities for abuse and manipulation. For example, hospitals can use more expensive codes than necessary, or bundle multiple codes together to charge more. They can also use vague or ambiguous codes that are hard to dispute or verify.


How insurance companies and Medicare negotiate lower rates for themselves but not for individuals




Another key finding of the Bitter Pill article is how insurance companies and Medicare negotiate lower rates for themselves but not for individuals. Insurance companies and Medicare have the bargaining power and the legal authority to negotiate discounts with hospitals and other providers, based on their large customer base and their standardized payment policies. For example, Medicare pays only $1.02 for a generic acetaminophen tablet, instead of $1.50. Medicare also pays only $554 for a CT scan, instead of $18,000.


However, these discounts are not available to individuals who are uninsured or underinsured, or who receive care from out-of-network providers. Out-of-network providers are those who do not have a contract with the patient's insurance company, and they can charge whatever they want. For example, a patient who had a heart attack was taken to an out-of-network hospital by an ambulance, and he received a bill for $474,064, which his insurance company refused to pay.


Another problem that affects individuals is balance billing and surprise billing. Balance billing is when a provider bills the patient for the difference between the chargemaster price and the negotiated price with the insurance company. Surprise billing is when a patient receives a bill from a provider who was not expected to be involved in their care, such as an anesthesiologist or a radiologist. These bills can be hundreds or thousands of dollars, and they are often unexpected and unavoidable.


How patients are left with huge debts and no recourse




The final finding of the Bitter Pill article is how patients are left with huge debts and no recourse. Many patients who receive exorbitant bills are unable to pay them, either because they do not have enough savings, income, or credit, or because they have other expenses and obligations. As a result, they face serious consequences such as:


  • Medical bankruptcy: According to a study by Harvard University, medical bills are the leading cause of personal bankruptcy in the United States, affecting about 2 million people every year.



  • Collections agencies: Many hospitals hire collections agencies to pursue unpaid bills, which can result in harassment, lawsuits, wage garnishments, liens, and credit damage.



  • Lack of transparency and accountability: Many patients do not understand their bills or their rights, and they have no way of challenging or disputing them. They also have no way of comparing prices or quality among different providers or facilities.



The Bitter Pill article shows how the health care system in the United States is broken and unfair, and how it needs urgent reform and regulation.


How to access the Bitter Pill article online




If you want to read the Bitter Pill article online, you need to know some information about its original source and format, as well as the legal and ethical issues of downloading it as a PDF file. You also need to know some alternative ways of obtaining it legally and ethically.


The original source and format of the Bitter Pill article




The Bitter Pill article was originally published in Time magazine on March 4, 2013. It was written by Steven Brill as part of a special report on health care costs in America. It was one of the longest articles ever published by Time magazine, spanning 36 pages and 24,000 words. It was also one of the most widely read and discussed articles in recent history, sparking debates and reactions from politicians, experts, media outlets, and ordinary citizens.


The Bitter Pill article is available online on Time magazine's website (https://time.com/198/bitter-pill-why-medical-bills-are-killing-us/). However, you need to have a subscription to access it. A subscription costs $40 per year or $5 per month, and it gives you access to all Time magazine's content online and offline.


The legal and ethical issues of downloading the article as a PDF file




The alternative ways of obtaining the article legally and ethically




If you do not want to pay for a subscription to Time magazine, or if you do not want to download the article as a PDF file illegally or unethically, there are some alternative ways of obtaining the article legally and ethically. For example:


  • You can borrow a print copy of Time magazine from a library or a friend who has a subscription.



  • You can read a summary or a review of the article online, such as this one by NPR (https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2013/02/20/172511096/how-to-charge-546-for-six-liters-of-saltwater).



  • You can watch a video or a podcast that features Steven Brill talking about the article, such as this one by 60 Minutes (https://www.cbsnews.com/news/why-are-medical-bills-so-high-steven-brill-60-minutes-2015-02-22/).



  • You can read Steven Brill's book America's Bitter Pill: Money, Politics, Backroom Deals, and the Fight to Fix Our Broken Healthcare System, which expands on the article and provides more insights and solutions.



These alternative ways can help you access the Bitter Pill article online without breaking the law or violating the author's rights.


Conclusion




The Bitter Pill article by Steven Brill is a must-read for anyone who wants to understand the high cost of health care in America. It exposes how hospitals, doctors, drug companies, insurance companies, and other players in the industry charge exorbitant prices for their services and products, while leaving patients with huge debts and no recourse. It also shows how insurance companies and Medicare negotiate lower rates for themselves but not for individuals, and how patients are often unaware of their bills or their rights.


The Bitter Pill article is available online on Time magazine's website, but you need to have a subscription to access it. You can also download it as a PDF file from other sources, but you need to be aware of the legal and ethical issues involved. Alternatively, you can obtain the article legally and ethically by borrowing a print copy, reading a summary or a review, watching a video or a podcast, or reading Steven Brill's book.


We hope that this article has helped you learn more about the Bitter Pill article and how to access it online. We also hope that it has inspired you to educate yourself and advocate for change in the health care system in the United States. Remember, your health and your wallet depend on it.


FAQs




  • What is the main message of the Bitter Pill article?



The main message of the Bitter Pill article is that the health care system in the United States is broken and unfair, and that it needs urgent reform and regulation.


  • Who wrote the Bitter Pill article?



The Bitter Pill article was written by Steven Brill, a journalist and lawyer who spent seven months researching and interviewing hundreds of sources.


  • When and where was the Bitter Pill article published?



The Bitter Pill article was published in Time magazine on March 4, 2013. It was part of a special report on health care costs in America.


  • How long is the Bitter Pill article?



The Bitter Pill article is one of the longest articles ever published by Time magazine. It spans 36 pages and 24,000 words.


  • How can I read the Bitter Pill article online?



You can read the Bitter Pill article online on Time magazine's website, but you need to have a subscription to access it. You can also download it as a PDF file from other sources, but you need to be aware of the legal and ethical issues involved. Alternatively, you can obtain the article legally and ethically by borrowing a print copy, reading a summary or a review, watching a video or a podcast, or reading Steven Brill's book.


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