Today’s Times has a story about how the nation’s governors are worried that Congress will expand Medicaid without giving states more resources to pay their part.

This part requires further inquiry:

“Connie Baugh received a letter … from [Washington] state saying that as a result of budget cuts, Medicaid could no longer pay for the compression stockings that support her circulation and keep her aching leg ulcers from flaring.. … At $239 a pair, the stockings are more than one-third the value of the monthly Social Security check she lives on.”

I can’t be the only person who wondered: why do the stockings cost $239 a pair?

The $239 stockings could be a neat illustration of how amazing modern medical technology is, and how amazingly expensive that technology is.


They could be a neat illustration of how government payment for medical products pushes up the cost of those products well beyond reasonable levels.

It could even be a combination of both — that the stockings should be expensive because they improve quality of life for people like Ms. Baugh and also save money in other, averted medical costs, but that they shouldn’t be this expensive.

FW has put in a call to the Washington State Department of Social Services to learn more about the stockings — who makes them (to see if we could compare prices here), how the reimbursement rate was decided back when they paid for them, whether this was competitively bid, etc.

Meanwhile, if there are any doctors, nurses, compression-stocking salespeople, or compression-stocking consumers out there who have any insight, inquiring minds (or at least one) want to know …

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