July 19, 2016

The Final Tuesday's Number: $78,422,278

No, that's not a typo in the title of this post. 

In last week's Tuesday's Number post, I noted that
I have a sneaky feeling this series will be winding down soon, based on what was in the paper today - or maybe, based on what wasn't in the paper.  I'll have to wait until next week to see if there's a trend or if this week is just an outlier -- so stay tuned.
Sadly, I was right - the series has come to an end.  Not because I'm tired of reporting on the weekly judgments, satisfied judgments and bankruptcies associated with health care.  Not because I grew frustrated with the incredibly high numbers for my neck of the woods.

Rather, the way filings have been reported for the past couple of weeks make it impossible for me to confidently identify and report the full picture of medical debt.  The issue is that I cannot tell whether filings in any of the three categories are associated with the SUNY Upstate Medical University. What used to be very clear is now easy to assume but hard to validate.

Why?

Because there are no longer any listings for 'SUNY Upstate Medical University' - there are now lots of listings for 'State of New York' with 'Syracuse' as the address, and based on historical reports most of them are apt to be the ones I want. But I can't tell for sure.

That being the case, it's not worth it for me to report what I can for the other three hospitals and the occasional nursing home, medical practice or other regional hospital and pretend that those filings will give us a true picture of what's going on.

For the past 183 weeks, I've logged $78,149,872 in judgments, $4,737,215 in bankruptcies, and $4,454,809 in satisfied judgments, for a net of$78,422,278, or an average of just over $428,500 per week.

No matter how you slice and dice the numbers, that's a whole lot of money. It's indicative of the fact that we still have a long way to go in figuring out how to manage health care, or manage health insurance, or both. 

I've always tagged the weekly Tuesday's Numbers not only as a health insurance or healthcare post, but as a political post - because ultimately it will be politicians who make the decisions that could cut this down to nothing, or could cause it to explode. For that reason, I'm disappointed that I won't be able to continue tracking the numbers and finding out where this all ends up, or how long it takes us to get there.