Tilting at Windmills

July/August 2012 The floating cost of a vestigial organ

By Charles Peters

A study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine and reported by the Associated Press reveals that in California, the cost of an appendectomy can range from $1,500 to $180,000, with the average coming in at $33,000. Lest you think these costs reflect a range of wildly different conditions, they don’t. The appendectomies covered by this study all had roughly the same low degree of complexity. “Researchers and other experts” tell the AP that “the results aren’t unique to California.”

Charles Peters is the founding editor of the Washington Monthly and the author of a new book on Lyndon B. Johnson published by Times Books.