Chronicling the follies of religion and superstition, the virtues of skepticism, and the wonders of the real (natural) universe as revealed by science. Plus other interesting and educational stuff.
"Tell people there’s an invisible man in the sky who created the universe, and the vast majority believe you. Tell them the paint is wet, and they have to touch it to be sure."
“If people are good only because they fear punishment, and hope for reward, then we are a sorry lot indeed”.
“Skeptical scrutiny is the means, in both science and religion, by which deep thoughts can be winnowed from deep nonsense.”
by Ezra Klein
(The Washington Post) - Last week I posted 21 charts showing the absurdly high prices Americans pay for health care. One reader wrote in with a story that is perhaps more compelling than any of them:
Let me briefly share with you a rather amazing personal experience of overcharging by a Harvard-affiliated hospital here in the Boston area. It’s not a huge matter, but it is so outrageous and almost funny in a way that I thought you might have an interest in using it, maybe in something you are otherwise working on.
The hospital did a single toenail clipping. The bill is $1,206.
To avoid misunderstandings, this was not a surgical intervention. It was the same kind of clipping that you do yourself every week, except that only a small piece of only one nail was clipped.
The whole encounter, including the prior doctor consultation, took about 15 minutes.
Admittedly, the tiny piece of toenail was sent in for lab analysis, because the doctor thought there might be some infection. (There wasn’t.) But the lab charges, although extremely high, were only part of the issue.
Here is how the charges broke down in detail. (From Brigham and Women’s, the dermatology department, dating from March 5, 2013.)
Office Visit — $248.00
Biopsy — $182.00
Treatment Room — $328.00
AMB Clinic — $117.00
Pathology Lab — $165.00
Laboratory Services — $166.00
Total — $1206.
I called the billing department of course, and they say that everything seems correctly coded. The billing person agreed personally that the numbers are outrageous but says there is nothing they can do about it. I then called the department of dermatology and spoke to two separate people there, who both also agreed that the charges are ridiculous, but they emphasized that there is nothing they can do, either. I have a call in to the Patient Relations department, and they have promised to return my call within two working days, but frankly I’m not holding my breath for any redress or mitigation from them.
My own personal experience with this - When I had my most serious diverticulitis flairup last summer, I would have died if I had not gone to the ER.
Let that sink in for a second. I WOULD HAVE DIED.
The bill ended up costing more than my car did. In fact over double that.
Mutual grief support is powerful and comforting. But sometimes a person who is grieving needs more help than peer-to-peer support can provide. If you are in need of professional grief counseling or other therapy free from religion or spiritualism, Grief Beyond Belief recommends The Secular Therapist Project. The project provides confidential referrals for secular mental health services; if they do not have a provider listed in your region, many of their therapists will provide services over the phone.