As a companion to the Time cover story, feel free to peruse Millman’s US Organ and Tissue Transplant Cost Estimates. Hint: Transplants are pretty darned expensive.
Now here’s the deal; these types of things are rightfully costly. Hospitals may be gouging uninsured patients opportunistically, which grates against our sense of fairness, but let us not let that fact take our eye off the ball. These types of procedures are insurable events that should be addressed using insurance. In this type of market, the uninsured should be gouged. As I have always said, it is this 1/3 of the health care market that is the proper market to implement a monopsony buyer (like single payer insurance operated by the government) to provide short side pricing power, with a mandate to purchase to maximally spread costs.
Also for anyone interested: here you will find the Health Care Blue Book, which shows fair market price for various procedures based on geographical area. A coronary bypass in my area has a fair market price of ~$63,000. So keep two things in mind next time you see the doctor; the fair market price, and the fact that what he is doing to you is likely useless at best, actively harmful at worst.
I wanted to tie this in with Kevin Drum’s post, which inspired it…but I didn’t, so there’s a dangling link.