Your For Profit Healthcare System At Work

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:

If We're Such Good Friends How Come You Don't Know I'm Not Fat?


Filed under advertising, HCA, health insurance, healthcare

9 responses to “Your For Profit Healthcare System At Work

  1. That takes a lot of balls to mail out shit like this. If this country had true universal health, instead of for profit, break the peoples bank accounts type insurance, we wouldn’t be having all the problems with health care today.

    • themadkansan

      not balls, just greed. pure, naked, unabashed avarice. the drive to make more money than everyone else, no matter how many you have to walk over to do it.

  2. themadkansan

    as far as fat goes, if they’d get rid of all the fucking cornsyrup that they dump into nearly every foodstuff on the planet nowadays it would go a long way toward reducing obesity and everything associated with it – but the wouldn’t produce as much profit…


    • But haven’t you seen the ads? Your body doesn’t know the difference between corn syrup and real sugar! It’s FINE …. in moderation!

      • themadkansan


        Say, c’mon over here for a minute – got a bridge I’d like you to look at. only 20% down, and low monthly payments…


      • Well, I love the “fine in moderation” part. Yeah THAT’S THE FUCKING POINT! It’s in EVERYTHING! There is no such thing as “moderation”! Please, take it out of everything so we can control our consumption!

        The entire ad campaign is a false argument. They’re not addressing the biggest complaint which is how ubiquitous this shit is.

      • themadkansan

        Well, that’s just it – if they DO address the problem of the sheer megatonnage of that crap they put into everything, it’s tantamount to zinging open the curtain in the Great And Powerful Oz’s audience chamber.

        Profits Must Be Maintained.

  3. ThresherK


    My instinct is that they know something about you: You don’t spend enough time or money in HealthCare, therefore you are healthy enough for your health care dollars to be harvested.

    (You didn’t say if you have or had any relationship with the company, or the envelope was addressed to SoBe, or “Friend”. Not to mention if your insurance company is sending our your “leads” information like in Glengarry Glen Ross.)

    Electiveness is much more profitable than taking care of people who need to get, y’know, better.

    • The envelope was addressed to me personally but the letter was “Friend.” I think one of my doctors *ob/gyn?) might have a relationship with them. I don’t have a relationship with them that I can think of.