What Pisses Me Off: Medical costs 17

What pisses me off


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OK, so I suppose it’s a little wrong to say this item pisses me off, because it’s something that doesn’t affect me greatly at the moment. But it is something that I would like to have explained to me, if there’s anyone who can do so, to my satisfaction!

I’d really like to know why so many medical appliances and materials have to cost such apparently exorbitant prices, when many of them appear to be of such simple materials, and in many cases can also be bought much cheaper from other sources.

One that immediately springs is the price of spectacle frames. I’d be prepared to accept (just) that lenses need careful manufacture, to match the requirements of the optician so that our eyesight isn’t made worse by a badly made lens, rather than better. But frames – do they have to be so pricy? Especially the so-called ‘designer’ ones, supposedly worked out after many hours of careful though by people like Versace and many others, when all they do, whoever designs them, is hold the vital lenses in a position where the eye can see through them? Honestly, is there any specialised design skill needed here; their frames really are little better than the cheap reading glasses you can buy in any chemist or novelty shop, but for about 20 times the price.

Then we have those plastic shoe inserts, supplied by one of the footwear specialists in the high street. A friend of mine went to this firm because of a slight ache in one heel and he was sold a scrap of moulded foam plastic to correct what the specialist said was a bit of heel misalignment – it cost him over $800 dollars! I would be delighted if someone could explain that one! However careful the measuring had to be to get the plastic into the right shape, that is a lot of money.

Another friend went to a local dentist a couple of days ago, to see about having a wisdom tooth removed because it was bothering her somewhat and she was shocked to be told the extraction would cost $2,300! That must have worked out at about $5.00 for the tiny amount of anaesthetic used $295.00 for the value of the pliers to pull the tooth and $2,000 for the dentist’s skill in pulling it out! I’m having a bit of a joke here of course, but I can think of no other way to arrive at such a figure, to extract just one tooth.

While we’re in the dentist’s waiting room, there’s the dental mechanic to be considered. A denture these days can cost four figures – not unlike the footwear man above a denture must use a couple of dollars-worth of plastic and maybe another hundred or so for some well-made teeth, and then the skill of the mechanic to assemble a wearable, comfortable and realistic-looking denture, a skill which must be costing the customer many hundreds of dollars an hour to provide.

Even the drugs we can buy over the counter in chemists or supermarkets cost a phenomenal amount, when one considers the minute amount of the actual drug there is in each tablet, most of which is chalk or some other simple carrier to contain the vital paracetamol or whatever medicine it might be. I am well aware that these companies spend vast amounts in developing a new drug, but they do get several years where the patent laws protect them and during which time they can charge more or less what they like. But surely, with the household drugs, like paracetamol, codeine, etc., the costs of development have long since been recouped and the prices could drop much lower than they are at present.

There, I’ve had my say, whether I’m wrong or right – I’d be delighted if anyone out there can satisfactorily explain these high costs, and if they can I will gladly apologise to the good people who make all this stuff for us. Just convince me!

Brian Lee

  1. What gets to me is how we make people with an ilness / condition pay so much eg diabetics etc .. my father many years ago had cancer of the bladder and after removal of same had to pay for tape ..tubes etc .. yet we give free needles to druggies

  2. Brian Lee you are spot on …I’m always querying the price of spectacles that are most likely made in China …as to how expensive they are….dental procedure is one big rip off

  3. You should see the costs for medical items used in hospitals, I belong to the hospital auxiliary and you have to sell a lot of raffle tickets or bake a lot of cakes to raise the $10,000 and more for most items that we supply thereby saving the government millions

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    • On the subject of health costs, we’ve had postings in 7 overseas countries where, in most cases, private health cover taken out by locals covered any gap in medical services. Here there’s always a huge gap covered by nobody. I have always found this hard to swallow, that if you fork out for private health cover you end up paying say $5000 gap for a hip replacement or around $3000 for a knee, whereas if you don’t have any private cover you get it all free – albeit with a long wait and no choice of doctor. The end result is that only the wealthy can afford private health cover when they need to encourage everyone to have it.

  4. You can get cheap dentistry by accepting crap cheap materials that look nasty and do not last. You can get cheap dentistry by going to someone who has not done the years of training and constant up dating of knowledge and skills. You can get cheap dentistry by going overseas to get crowns and bridges done then come back and go wailing to your Australian dentist as the teeth break down and it costs you a fortune to fix the dreadful mess. For earth’s sake this is a really stupid article. Roughly 80% of a dentists fee goes on equipment lease and update with regular health department checks, materials used, staff and general running costs, as well laboratory fees cost a lot that the dentist has to pay. If you have a check up, a proper one, not some cheap, nasty health fund sponsored one the fee you pay will never cover the cost to the dentist. Dentist who do work for veteran’s affairs often spend more looking after the patient than the government pays them. Many, many dentists also participate in free dentistry days for the poor. Until you know all the things a dentist has to do just to maintain your teeth, keep your mouth shut, your ignorance is astounding. This applies to optometry and podiatry as well if you do not know what is involved don’t spout such rubbish.
    Description of dentistry; it is like repairing a watch in a bucket of saliva.

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    • Susan, I fully agree with your opinion. Someone has let lose in this article, without putting any thought into it. Not worse to answer. We all suffer with high medical costs, but what was mentioned here was utter nonsense or just outright lazy

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      • sorry for the typo: ‘worth’ instead of worse

  5. Unfortunately there is no control of the prices of frames for your eyes or dentures or medicine. Since computers came in I check the Internet for medicines the side effects as well which no Doctor will tell you. I get my supplements from America at a quarter the price they are in Australia. For example high cholesterol plant sterols to control high cholesterol from America is a mere $7.95 for 60 tablets in Australia it is $40 how can anyone justify that? how frustrating it is that it leads me to order from America.

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