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As I See It

Price of gas, milk, no secret. Why are health care costs hidden?



If your tank is empty, there is no secret what it will cost you to fill up. The price per gallon is posted high in the air in big bright numbers for all to see. If you think it is too high, you may wait a day, or even drive to another station to fill up. If you need to pick up a gallon of milk, the price is clearly marked in the display case. If you want a pack of gum, that price is there for all to see and make a purchasing decision accordingly. Not so with hospital rates in Wisconsin. When you schedule an appointment, you typically have no idea what it actually costs, how much insurance will cover, and how much you will be expected to pay out of pocket. There is not even an estimate. You don’t know if one local hospital charges more for the same procedure than its competitor. Soon that could change. A couple of Republican lawmakers in Wisconsin have introduced legislation that would require hospitals to list the price of some 300 medical procedures online for all to see. The Wisconsin Hospital Association is against the idea, arguing it mirrors a federal law. But that law isn’t being enforced. Less than 25% of hospitals nationwide are in compliance, but only two have ever been fined by the feds. Wisconsin should make hospitals tell us what they will charge. It is time to put citizens in control of their health care spending.

Scott Robert Shaw serves as WIZM Program Director and News Director, and delivers the morning news on WKTY, Z-93 and 95.7 The Rock. Scott has been at Mid-West Family La Crosse since 1989, and authors Wisconsin's only daily radio editorial, "As I See It" heard on WIZM each weekday morning and afternoon.

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