I don’t know why this letter I got from HCA/Tri-Star Health Systems pissed me off so much but it did. It’s a sales pitch for various surgical procedures for obesity, and it came addressed to me (though the salutation is to “Friend”).
You know what? I don’t want to get sales pitches from the local for-profit hospital chain selling me some sketchy obesity surgery. And speaking of fat, I suspect Tri-Star is getting fat off the bloated insurance premiums we pay every month, which is why they can pay to send out mass mailings like this and offer a
FREE bariatric surgery seminar where you will meet with a bariatric surgeon, hear about other patients’ experiences with bariatric surgery and receive an information packet ….
What is this, a hospital or a timeshare?
I don’t suppose we’ll be hearing from too many of these folks, will we?
Maybe what bothers me is this:
Because insurers are increasingly willing to cover weight-loss surgery, hospitals here see it as a growing profit center.
They are mounting marketing campaigns and competing to sign up top weight-loss surgeons.
“There’s a high reimbursement rate for these procedures,” says Bob Benowitz, a Manhattan lawyer whose clients include many local hospitals and physicians.
Nationally, insurers paid hospitals an average of more than $10,000 for the two most popular of the procedures: gastric bypass and gastric banding. Christine Ren, a bariatric surgeon at New York University Medical Center, says some companies pay as much as $14,000.
That story is from 2007. I’m betting those numbers are much higher now. And I’m betting HCA/Tri-Star is cashing in on this profit center, just as the New York hospitals mentioned in the article did. After all, we have no shortage of obese people here in Tennessee.
I find this immoral. The entire idea that there’s a profit motive attached to healthcare is repugnant. No one should get rich off of someone’s healthcare needs. I place most of the diet industry on a par with snake oil salesmen, peddling quick-fixes like diet cookies and powders and shakes. And now HCA/Tri-Star puts itself in the same camp as the hucksters hawking a lemonade-maple-syrup-cayenne-pepper diet.
Read the letter here: