Doctor visits, many times makes us wonder where the money you pay for medical care go. It usually means that something unpleasant is occurring with us and we’re going to receive an unpleasant hospital bill when we’re through. But did you ever stop and wonder where all that money goes? If you thought it simply went to line the pockets of your doctor’s lab coat or pay for his vacations in the Bahamas or kids’ private school, you’d be wrong. While a percentage of your fee does pay the doctor for his expertise and care, much more of it goes to other pockets.
Let’s see where exactly your health care expenses end up.
- Staff – Doctors don’t do it all anymore. Even in a small practice, there are one or two other staffers, and in large medical institutions like hospitals, there are typically thousands of others hard at work. There’s the office staff and others in administration—billing clerks, record clerks, switchboard operators, human resources, and more—that have to be paid. In your local one-doc shop, all these people may be wrapped up into one harried and overworked receptionist, but she probably doesn’t work for free, now does she? And then there’s the medical staff—nurses, technicians, aides, and more—who also don’t work for peanuts. All of these folks have to get their share of the money, too, and often before the doctor gets his.
- Medical equipment and supplies – Whether it’s for the purchase of new equipment, or the repair and upkeep of existing equipment, the largest portion of most of your fees goes to the medical equipment suppliers and service personnel. And we’re not just talking big stuff like CT scanners or new operating theaters, either. From the gloves, hypodermic and IV supplies, and gowns, right down to the soap and towels used before and after examinations and procedures—it all has to be paid for.
- Office equipment and supplies – All those administration employees, even if it’s just that one harried and hurried gal in the front office, need supplies, too. Paper, toner, printer ink, specialized forms, computer equipment and software—it’s another expense that many of us don’t consider when we complain about the high cost of medical care these days. Medical software is a big expense, as it covers just about all of patient care and hospital administration.
- Auxiliary staff – We’ve discussed the office and medical staff needed to assist your physician in taking care of you, but what about those other guys and gals that keep the office or hospital running? A hospital needs an army of non-medical and non-administrative staff to function. Most have their own mechanical staff to keep the lights on and the elevators and air conditioning going. Then there’s the gang in the kitchen and cafeteria, preparing that wonderful hospital cuisine. Let’s not forget their janitorial housekeepers either, mopping, sweeping, and emptying trash bins throughout the hospital.
This list doesn’t include everything—we’ve left off legal, research, and other expenses that a health care provider must cough up too. While this knowledge might not soften the blow of your bills, it’s good to consider where your money goes.
- Medical Expenses: AFSB