The ER, Or The Most Expensive Health Care On The Planet

They bought it.”

– Ferris Bueller, 1986

In my last post I reviewed several reasons commonly used to explain the high costs of health care, and how they are all untrue.

As I’ve said before, it’s not about the costs; it’s about the charges. Or to be more specific, it’s about the markup, which is really what sends those charges into the ridiculosphere.

Take the case of a woman who went to a Dallas ER last January for bronchitis and was given a breathing treatment. She was treated for less than an hour and sent home, but her total bill had eleven different charges on it and totaled $2,455.20.

Now, my favorite charge on the above list isn’t the $1,055.15 facility fee, just for walking in the door.

Nor is it the $64.40 she was charged for a dose of asthma medicine that only costs 13 cents (you can get 25 of these on the $4 list at certain pharmacies).

No my favorite charge is the $580.00 price for the air that she breathed to be pumped through a nebulizer machine.

True story.


It’s not the COSTS of health care that are outrageous…it’s the CHARGES.

Physician. Health Insurance Agent. Author. Health care humorist. Medical satirist. Disruptor. At your service. My name is Kevin Wacasey, and I’ve been practicing medicine since 1994. When I graduated from medical school, I took an oath to do no harm to my patients. To me, that includes financial harm. But since health insurance took over health care over 40 years ago, health care prices have skyrocketed. And despite what we’re told by the media every day, it isn’t the costs of health care that are outrageous; it’s the charges. So if you’ve ever wondered why we spend so much on health insurance and health care, then come along and join me as I explore the crazy world of Healthcareonomics. Health care doesn’t have to be expensive. Let me show you how. For speaking opportunities and to pass along your questions/comments, please email me at

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