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First the cat, now the health system puts the bite on me

A $55,000 hospital bill includes $16 for a generic Tylenol pill. Obamacare may end the systematic inflation of prices.

January 15, 2013|David Lazarus

"This is a seismic shift," Feinberg said. "It will allow us to stop sending out all the crazy bills. It will be all about what it actually costs to keep you healthy."

He said most hospitals and insurance plans will switch to the new system by the time so-called online insurance exchanges open next year for people who don't receive coverage through their employers.

"Right now, the more patients we have in the hospital, the more money we make," Feinberg said. "Soon, we'll make more money by keeping you out of the hospital."

This is a big deal, and hopefully will result in a more transparent healthcare system that focuses on the smartest use of resources, not on throwing funny money around.

I remain grateful that I received such high-quality care. I'm pleased that when I needed it, my insurance did what it was supposed to do.

But there's no excuse for charging $16 for a generic Tylenol, not to mention $70 for an IV bag of dextrose, which is basically sugar water. I found the same dose online for less than $3.

Anybody who charges prices like that deserves a little quality time with my cat.

David Lazarus' column runs Tuesdays and Fridays. He also can be seen daily on KTLA-TV Channel 5 and followed on Twitter @Davidlaz. Send tips or feedback to

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