I’m having a hard time imagining Andy Griffith hiding behind a bush shooting residents of Mayberry with a radar gun.  It’s even harder to imagine the residents of Mayberry buying sheriff Griffith a radar gun he could use to extract money from them, all in the name of keeping them safe.

Whatever you think of what I just wrote, I’m really having a hard time trying to discern the difference between the above and the business of many “not for profit” community hospitals.  These hospitals often times use taxpayer-funded bonds (I really wish people would use the full name…”bondage”) to expand what amounts to an instrument of bankruptcy for the residents who invariably vote for these bond measures.  

Think I’m overstating things?  At least one community hospital in Oklahoma charges $9000 for a colonoscopy, a procedure that a physician-owned lab will do here in Oklahoma City for under $600 (and do it better, I would add).  How many times have you heard someone say they received a $1000 bill from the emergency room for a laceration that required suturing or some other minor intervention?  Followers of this blog know how our profitable prices compare to those facilities supposedly not making a profit!  

62% of bankruptcies in this country are related to health charges.  Here’s the crazy part:  78% of those bankrupted by their health bills have health insurance.  As ostensible bond-holders of these back-breaking hospitals, you would think that some of these folks would get a break from these institutions.

Keep this in mind the next time a bond issue comes up in your community to expand this or that part of what will undoubtedly end up being a bankrupting speed trap for the sick and injured.

G. Keith Smith, M.D.