American health care's life-destroying "surprise bills" are the fault of local, private-equity monopolies

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One day there’s going to be a re-make of “Goodfellas” focusing on neoliberalism, including a scene where two vulture capitalists torch a hospital instead of a bar.


I was thinking of a remake of The Hunger, except it’s VCs (vampire capitalists).


This is happening up and down the health-care stack: two thirds of air ambulances are now owned by three private-equity-backed funds, and while the number of air ambulances has gone up, while demand has remained flat, the price of an air ambulance has doubled in a decade. The helicopter that takes you to a hospital today might cost $56k, of which your insurer will expect you to pay $44k.

Maryland is an outlier in this. Emergency Air ambulance services are part of the state police. Indeed the pilots and paramedics in back are both state police officers. It is an earlier model, from a more civilized age.


I spent 25 years in the newspaper industry. I was not only a member, but an officer of our local Newspaper Guild, and had a front row seat to how private equity firms take over, gut and leave news papers to die. Witnessing this happening to other businesses is sad and depressing and makes me question what kind of Bladerunner-esque world our children will have to navigate.


That would be great, but “coming together” is no longer a thing that we Americans seem to be able to do anymore.

People without empathy don’t see the problems until it effects them personally, and even then they only see their problem.

I’ve had a crap morning and this is depressing me even more. Maybe this will be able to galvanize a majority so it can be undone. But the thing is, the destroyers have the capitol now. Good luck wresting it from them.


This is a side-argument in favor of Medicare For All. It’s one thing when a vulture capital crime organization pads a bill to an insurer, who passes the bulk of it along to the patient (and sends back a Thank-You note to the provider, “Thanks for padding our 15% take!”). It is an entirely different thing to try the same game with Medicare. The only hopeful note in the whole article was:

My wife broke her leg on a hike a couple of months ago. It took ~15 people, 5 trucks, a helicopter, an ambulance and 3 or 4 hours to get her off the mountain and to the hospital.
After surgery, 2 plates, a dozen screws and many x-rays she is back on her feet.
The cost to us? $30 Canadian to buy the crutches and a couple hundred to rent a wheelchair.
Yes, Canada.


What’s more, even if there is a way to undo this, the people involved will still be rich and powerful and will easily find a new way to prey upon the rest of humanity with impunity. I say break out the guillotines.


What’s appalling about this is how unnecessary these PE companies are. They generate no real value and their profits are basically hidden from the rest of the economy: it’s private so they won’t show up on in the DOW/S&P,etc. they employ very few people so they don’t impact labor force participation, etc.

These companies all could disappear overnight and virtually nobody would notice except ANYTHING for a decline in the cost of medical care.


Uh oh, that’s some risky socialism talk. Don’t you like freedom?


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