A Couple of Graphical Lessons From the Government’s Huge Hospital Chargemaster Data Dump

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Today the government released data showing how much different hospitals charge for the same procedure. I’ve been struggling since last night to figure out what to say about this, since in one way there’s no news here. The fact that there are huge disparities has been well known for quite a while. This new data simply lays it out in more mind-numbing detail than usual. For now, then, I’m just going to offer up a couple of good graphical presentations that I’ve seen. The first is your basic map, courtesy of the New York Times. I zoomed in on Los Angeles here:

Take a look in the hospitals in the middle. There’s a disparity of 2-4x in pricing between hospitals that are only a couple of miles apart. Why? Some is probably due to the nature of the cases they take, and the amount of unpaid work they do. But 2-4x? What accounts for this? Part of the answer comes from the chart below, courtesy of the Washington Post:

This doesn’t explain everything, but it explains a fair amount. The private sector, we’re told, is always more efficient than the public sector. Competition, you understand. But that doesn’t seem to be the case in the healthcare industry. I will allow you to draw your own conclusions.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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