As long as we're talking about cost consciousness, it's worth remembering that patients don't always have total control over what medical procedures are thrown at them. That's the lesson of an alarming story ProPublica posted yesterday, featuring a hospital that charged $1,877 to pierce a 5-year-old's ears.
The back story: No, the hospital didn't say, "Hey, would you like a $1,877 ear piercing for your daughter?" The girl was there for an unrelated, minor outpatient procedure, and the surgeon offered to do the ear piercing as long as she was there. The mother assumed it would be free — and then found out it wasn't when the insurer refused to pay for it.
The big picture: It's an extreme case, but ProPublica cites other examples of patients who got procedures because they were presented with little to no choice. It's hard to see that changing until there's a broader public awareness of wasteful spending — and patients learn to push back.