Time Stares Into the Abyss of Miami's Health Care Costs, Blames Retirees

We broke the news this week that the average cost of health care for a family of four in Miami was the highest in nation at $20,280, 20% more than the national average. So Time's brave Tim Padgett takes a look into the state of the health industry in Miami, and while he finds many possible places to point a finger, where going to stick ours squarely at retirees. 

As a result of the deluge of doctors and hospitals that have flocked to the retiree mecca since the 1960s and '70s, chasing the lucrative Medicare business as well as the area's population boom, South Florida has "an excess capacity of health care providers and institutions," Quick notes. And to make sure they all get a piece of the action, they've created a wasteful and ill-coordinated system of healthcare redundancies, from unnecessary MRIs to inpatient treatment that too often could have been cheaper outpatient treatment. Miami-Dade, for example, has one of the nation's highest hospital readmission rates -- and more MRI machines than Canada.

So, basically in order to cater to the elderly crowd, doctors and hospitals bought a bunch of fancy medical equipment (more MRI machines than all of Canada, fer chrissakes), and even if you don't really need the particular services of a certain machine they make you use it anyway, because hey it's there and they've got bills to pay. While we may have tons of futuristic medical machines, we do have a shortage of primary care doctors. The kind of doctors that form the first line of defense on the health front.

Another problem is Florida laws that don't require doctor's to carry malpractice insurance. One third of doctors in South Florida are uninsured so instead of providing efficient care, they make their patients go through and pay for tons of tests to make sure they don't get sued if something goes amiss. 

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