Two stories appeared on the screen today illustrative of everything that’s wrong with America’s health care system.
First, consider the tale of a gaudy mansion that’s going up in one of Washington, D.C.’s most exclusive burbs.
From Justin Jouvenal of the Washington Post:
In an era of prosperity that has made the Washington area the nation’s most affluent region, the home going up in an exclusive Great Falls neighborhood could be its most potent and polarizing symbol yet: a 25,424-square-foot mansion modeled on the Palace of Versailles.
“Le Chateau de Lumiere,” as its owners have dubbed it, will be among the largest homes ever built in the area, but it is also creating an outsize controversy worthy of Louis XIV himself.
The chateau will sit on a hill on a five-acre lot across River Bend Road from Great Falls Park. It will feature stone columns, arched windows, a curved roof and landscaping that echo the famed French palace. True to its moniker, the mansion will be illuminated by an extensive underground lighting system. Builders and real estate agents peg its cost at $15 million to $20 million.
Plans show the home will have five bedrooms, three two-car garages, an elevator, and a pool and a pool house. The entrance foyer will feature two sweeping staircases leading to a gallery running the length of the home.
The basement alone will have a wine cellar, an exercise room, a billiard room, a theater with a concession space, a spa, a sauna, a card room, a recreation room, a gallery, a kitchen and a large guest bedroom. On the third floor, the master bedroom suite will take up an entire wing and consist of a study, sitting room, gallery and four other rooms.
So who’s building this mansion so excessive that fellow neighborhood plutocrats are outraged?
The Post describes owner Young Yi as the “low-profile” boss of 1st Class Sleep Diagnostics Center, a six-clinic chain of sleep disorder treatment centers.
While Ms. Yi is raking in the big bucks from poor souls who have trouble sleeping at night, there’s another group of presumably sleepless souls who probably can’t afford the services of her lucrative clinics.
They’re the hapless folks who get threatened by bill collectors in hospital emergency rooms.
From Jessica Silver-Greenberg of the New York Times:
One of the nation’s largest medical debt-collection companies is under fire in Minnesota for having placed its employees in emergency rooms and other departments at two hospitals and demanding that patients pay before receiving treatment, according to documents released Tuesday by the Minnesota attorney general. The documents say the company also used patient health records to wrangle for more money on overdue bills.
The company, Accretive Health, has contracts not only with the two hospitals cited in Minnesota but also with some of the largest hospital systems in the country, including Henry Ford Health System in Michigan and Intermountain Healthcare in Utah. Since January, it has faced a civil lawsuit filed by Attorney General Lori Swanson of Minnesota alleging that it violated state and federal debt-collection laws and patient privacy protections.
Ms. Swanson, though not bringing further charges on Tuesday, said she was in discussions with state and federal regulators to prompt a widespread crackdown on Accretive Health’s practices in other states.
“I have every reason to believe that what they are doing in Minnesota is simply company practice,” she said in an interview, but declined to be more specific.
Don’t you love that name “Accretive Health?”
Here’s the definition of “accretive” from Investopedia:
The process of accretion, which is the growth or increase by gradual addition, in finance and general nomenclature. An acquisition is considered accretive if it adds to earnings per share.
In other words, “profitable health.”