The shocking reason hospitals keep their prices a secret from you

Congress has provided hospitals with nearly $200 billion of our hard-earned tax dollars to help them weather the coronavirus pandemic. House Democrats just passed a bill adding another $100 billion. Now it’s time to stop bailing out hospitals and start helping financially stressed families get better health care at lower costs.

In health care, most prices are hidden. Earlier this month, big, profitable hospital systems were in court to make sure that American patients remain in the dark, challenging a Trump administration rule that would require them to publicize prices, including those negotiated with insurance companies.

No other industry is fighting to hide prices from consumers. When given pricing information, people know how to shop for value. With websites like Amazon and Kayak, Americans use price information to secure the best deals. This forces providers to compete by lowering prices and improving quality. Health-care markets don’t work like this.

Imagine going to the grocery store to buy milk, bread and butter, but without any prices. You check out and the grocer tells you that your bill will come in a few weeks. In about a month, you get both an explanation of grocery benefits from your insurer and a bill from the grocer for $150.

You know this can’t be right — a gallon of milk, a loaf of bread and a pack of butter can’t cost this much. You call your insurer, and they ask what you are complaining about. Without their discount, you would have paid $250. They saved you $100!

Sounds crazy, but this is how we pay for most of our health care. It’s actually worse because of huge price variation across insurers. The parallel would be if two other people purchase those same goods and one of them is charged $50 and the other is charged $400.

A lack of price information has led both insurers and hospitals to become lazy and inefficient. They can deliver mediocre or even poor care at high cost and still see their bottom lines improve. Counter to common perception, health insurers aren’t interested in lower health-care costs since they gain more revenue from higher spending. Insurers pass the higher costs to employers and employees through higher premiums while they tell us what a great “discount” we received.

The Trump administration rule would also require hospitals to post prices for at least 300 shoppable services on their websites in a consumer-friendly way. With this information, consumers and employers would force insurers, hospitals and health-care providers to compete by lowering costs and improving value. By lowering what Americans spend on health care, it will leave families with more income to save for their retirement, help pay for their kids’ education, or take a family vacation. Now, more than ever, Americans have a greater incentive to make smart health care choices, as high deductible plans and health savings accounts are both growing.

The hospitals claim the Trump administration exceeded its authority in issuing its price transparency rule. We don’t know if that’s true, but there’s a simple fix. Congress can pass this action and ensure that Americans have access to real prices in health care.

This is especially important now as the economic recession pinches family budgets across the country. Congress has already taken care of hospitals. Now it should help patients by giving them the control and information they need to be effective health-care shoppers.

Brian Blase served as a special assistant to President Trump at the National Economic Council, 2017-19. He is president of Blase Policy Strategies LLC.

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The real reason Kate Gosselin quit being a nurse

Before Kate Gosselin landed Jon & Kate Plus 8 in 2007 and snagged two spin-off shows on TLC — Kate Plus 8 and Kate Plus Date — she worked as a nurse in her home state of Pennsylvania. She completed her education at the Reading Hospital and Medical Center in the Keystone State, working as a labor and delivery room nurse, according to the New York Daily News.

Kate quit her job to raise her twins and sextuplets, and after finding fame on TV, she expressed a desire to leave her career behind for one in the entertainment industry. “I’ve discovered that I’ve done enough years of TV that it’s a normal, natural place for me to be,” she said during a 2009 episode of Jon & Kate Plus 8, per People. “I’d love to be in a movie. [Maybe] the voice of a cartoon character. For my kids. That would be fun!”

Interestingly enough, when it came time to renew her nursing license in October 2009, the mom chose to update her credentials, Radar Online reported. This is especially curious because Kate’s life today doesn’t involve her working as a nurse. 

So what’s the real reason why Kate Gosselin ditched her scrubs? As it turns out, the truth makes perfect sense.

Kate Gosselin's nursing career might not provide enough dough

Following the renewal in 2009, Kate Gosselin was set to renew her license again in 2011. We’re not sure if she ever went through with it, but we do have suspicion nursing isn’t enough to cover her bills. Radar Online noted that the average salary for a registered nurse in Pennsylvania is $69,000, and although this is an impressive and sustainable income by many standards, it’s hard to imagine this is enough for a single mom with eight kids. It’s also worth noting that Kate’s house reportedly cost $1.2 million to purchase in 2008, and the upkeep must cost a pretty penny.

Kate was able to rely on her reality TV income for a long time, but it’s unclear what she’ll do going forward now that her contract with TLC has supposedly ended. Her ex-husband, Jon Gosselin, is curious as well. “It’s like she’s gone MIA for a while,” Jon said about Kate to The Sun. “I have no idea what she’s doing for work.” 

He also questioned why she didn’t help out during the coronavirus pandemic, adding, “I mean you think – as she claims she has her nursing license – that she’d be on the front line. That would be a good idea. Just saying.”

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The real reason why America’s Next Top Model was canceled in 2015

America’s Next Top Model made its debut during the reality TV boom of the early 2000s, and was television’s first attempt at blending an American Idol-style competition with the modeling world. Aspiring models from throughout the U.S. were brought together under the eye of supermodel Tyra Banks, serving as the show’s host and executive producer over the course of numerous “cycles” (the show’s preferred term over the more traditionally used “seasons”).

ANTM was an instant hit, drawing some of the biggest ratings ever seen by the UPN network. “Model gave us a footprint in the sand and let people say, ‘Yes, UPN is there,” UPN chairman and CEO Leslie Moonves told Variety after the series’ debut cycle. When UPN merged with The WB network in 2006 to form a new network called the CW, ANTM was one of a handful of UPN shows carried over to the new venture — and undeniably the most popular. 

After more than a decade and 22 cycles, the show was finally taken off the air (albeit not for long). Read on to find out the real reason why America’s Next Top Model was canceled in 2015.

America's Next Top Model had a steady decline in ratings

It’s an unfortunate truism in television that, with rare exceptions, most TV shows have a best-by date. Following the success of its early seasons, by the early part of the 2010s, ratings for America’s Next Top Model had begun to dip. According to ratings archived at SpotVault, the series premiere in 2003 attracted 2.9 million total viewers and a 1.5 rating in the key 18-49 demographic; ratings grew throughout the cycle, with the 2003 finale bringing in 4.5 million viewers and a 2.3 in the 18-49 demo. 

Viewership kept growing, with 6.4 million tuning in for the fall 2005 finale. However, ratings began dipping in subsequent seasons. By the 22nd cycle in 2015, the numbers had dropped considerably, with an average of just 1.12 million viewers. As SpotVault‘s analysis pointed out, a show that had once been one of the CW’s strongest shows had plunged considerably, and was still trending downward. In fact, the fall 2015 cycle earned a mere 0.37 in the 18-49 demo, a fraction of its early seasons.

In fact, Deadline reported that ratings for the 2015 finale was an all-time low for ANTM, “the worst the 12-year-old show has ever done.”

Few of America's Next Top Model winners became actual top models

The lure of stardom is dangled in singing competitions such as American Idol and The Voice, but longtime viewers can concede that not every winner on either of those shows winds up going on to Carrie Underwood-sized success. That was certainly the case with America’s Next Top Model.

In Touch Weekly took a retrospective look at the post-ANTM careers of the winners, and it’s safe to say there are few who’d be considered household names on the level of host Tyra Banks. In fact, arguably the two most famous winners came from the show’s first and 22nd cycles: Adrianne Curry and Nyle DiMarco, respectively. Interestingly enough, fame for both came not from modeling but from reality television, with Curry going on to star alongside then-husband Christopher Knight (a.k.a. Peter from The Brady Bunch) in My Fair Brady and other shows, while DiMarco became the winner of the 22nd season of Dancing With the Stars

As Variety‘s list of the show’s most notable contestants indicated, the post-show success of ANTM alums like Winnie Harlow, Danielle Evans, and Fatima Siad have been the exception, not the rule.

There was insensitivity towards the models on America's Next Top Model

America’s Next Top Model has had its share of awkward moments that made viewers cringe. One of these moments came in the fourth cycle when model Kahlen Rondot was asked to pose for a photo shoot in a grave — shortly after learning that a close friend had passed away. 

Another infamous moment came in the 15th cycle when Kayla Ferrel was pushed into a shoot that required her to kiss a male model. This made her highly uncomfortable; as Ferrel revealed that not only was she gay, but she had also been sexually abused as a child, admitting that having to be intimate with a man “freaked me out.” Another infamous moment came in the sixth cycle when host Tyra Banks laid into Dani Evans (who would ultimately win) for refusing to let a dentist close the gap between her front teeth.  

When a clip of that scene with Evans was posted on Twitter in 2020 and went viral, host Tyra Banks was hit with backlash. She took to social media and addressed “posts about the insensitivity of some past ANTM moments,” tweeting, “I agree with you.” She added, “Looking back, those were some really off choices.” 

Blackface controversies led to America's Next Top Model backlash

White people darkening their skin is a hot-button issue that has led to TV hosts being fired and politicians apologizing for ill-conceived costumes. Yet models in blackface was a phenomenon that took place in America’s Next Top Model repeatedly over the years. As Vox pointed out, there were several occasions when models had their skin darkened for photo shoots throughout the show’s run.

The first time it occurred, Vox recalled, was in the second cycle, when model Xiomara Frans’ skin was darkened so she could resemble model-singer Grace Jones. A clip from the episode showed host Tyra Banks seemingly missing how offensive the whole thing was when she complained that Frans’ reluctance to participate in the shoot was because “ethnic women never want to be darker.”

Another blackface incident took place in the 13th cycle, when red-headed, pale-skinned model Nicole Fox’s skin was darkened for a photo shoot in which the models were all meant to be biracial. “Tyra crossed the fine line from tasteless over to offensive,” writer Gazelle Emami wrote of the episode in HuffPost, adding, “Call it what you want, but that’s basically a euphemism for putting them in blackface.” 

Judges were fired and replaced on America's Next Top Model

Loyal viewers of the show had grown to appreciate the judging panel — until producers (including host/exec producer Tyra Banks) cleaned house in 2012, reportedly firing longtime fan favorites J. Alexander, Jay Manuel, and Nigel Barker.

According to a report by Page Six, the “ugly firings” were the result of a planned shift for the upcoming season, with a “show insider” telling Page Six that ANTM would be putting a greater emphasis on social media. Executive producer Ken Mok addressed the dismissal of the trio in a statement. “Nigel Barker, Jay Manuel and J. Alexander have been an integral part of the America’s Next Top Model brand and they helped turn this show into the household name it is today,” he said, declaring they had been “amazing assets to the show.” Despite having just sent them packing…

Barker, however, insisted there were no hard feelings, telling E! News that it “wasn’t a shock” that he was let go, insisting it was “a network thing” to axe him. “There had been a discussion that ratings were down and that something like this would happen,” he explained.

Were there too many changes at America's Next Top Model's judge table?

Supermodel Janice Dickinson was one of the original judges of America’s Next Top Model. As the show evolved in its early seasons, Dickinson ultimately parted ways with the show. As Entertainment Weekly reported, it wasn’t clear whether Dickinson (described as ANTM’s Simon Cowell) “quit or was pushed.” Brought on as her replacement was iconic British model Twiggy. “We are thrilled to have Twiggy as a part of this cycle’s judging panel,” said ANTM exec producer Ken Mok in a statement, lauding her vast knowledge and expertise.”

After five cycles, Twiggy also exited, with “scheduling conflicts” said to be the reason. She was replaced by Paulina Porizkova, who hung on for three cycles before she too parted ways with ANTM.

While Twiggy never confirmed whether she had quit or been fired, that wasn’t the case with her successor. During a 2009 appearance on The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson, Porizkova confirmed rumors she’d been axed. She candidly told Ferguson, “I’m looking for a job. Because I was fired by America’s Next Top Model — on my birthday!” While producers may have felt an ever-revolving roster of judges kept things fresh, viewers continually encountered an inconsistent show.

America's Next Top Model's British Invasion season was kind of mean

Producers of America’s Next Top Model could be forgiven for wanting to shake things up in the show’s 18th cycle, although there’s no denying that the ensuing shakeup was ill-conceived. Cycle 18 featured the infamous “British Invasion” edition, which pitted seven wannabe American models against seven fan-favorite contestants from the show’s U.K. version, Britain’s Next Top Model. “Emotions run high, the women are divided and the competition is intense as they vie for the grand prize,” declared a press release, as reported People.

Notably, the “British Invasion” season featured publicist Kelly Cutrone behind the judges’ table. Tensions between Cutrone and British model Louise Watts simmered and then boiled over when the two clashed over Watts’ running on the set. When Cutrone lit into her during a judging session, Watts decided she’d had enough and stormed out. Filmed outside next to a parked car, Watts was emotional, tearful and furious, declaring that if she ran into Watts on the street she’d “knock her out.” Sure, the moment was full of the kind of high drama that viewers of reality TV lap up, but was that what viewers wanted from this show?

America's Next Top Model no longer fit the network's brand

While plunging ratings and constant changes at the judges’ table may have been factors in the CW’s decision to cancel America’s Next Top Model, another had to do with the changing nature of the network itself. When the UPN and WB networks merged to become the CW, ANTM was one of the few UPN shows brought over to the new hybrid. For years, the show proved to be an ideal fit for a network that marketed itself to a young female demographic, home to such series as Gossip Girl, One Tree Hill, and 90210

As Variety pointed out, by 2015, ANTM was no longer such a great fit with the network’s programming, which had evolved to expand beyond teen dramas into the superhero realm with the likes of Arrow and The Flash

In an interview with TV Guide, the CW’s president, Mark Pedowitz, admitted that the network had intended to bring the show back for a 23rd cycle. However, after some conversations with Tyra Banks, all parties involved came to a mutual decision that fans of the show were not going to like.

America's Next Top Model was finally canceled

In October 2015, the CW announced its decision to cancel America’s Next Top Model after 22 cycles. Tyra Banks was the first to break the news. “Thinking #ANTM22 should be our last cycle,” she wrote on Twitter. “I truly believe it’s time. May your pics be forever fierce. Keep on Smizing!”

The CW’s president, Mark Pedowitz, confirmed the news in a statement. “America’s Next Top Model was a successful franchise for two networks, first at UPN and then The CW, and it became not just a ratings hit, but a global pop culture phenomenon,” he said, as reported by Variety. He also thanked exec producers Banks and Ken Mok for “establishing a show that was not just popular in the U.S., but all across the world.”

Pedowitz subsequently told TV Guide that it hadn’t been his intention to cancel the show. It was only after discussing the future of America’s Next Top Model with Banks that the decision was reached. “America’s Next Top Model was an iconic show,” he said. “It kept the lights on for many, many years in many, many forms.”

America's Next Top Model was resurrected for VH1

After its 2015 cancellation, America’s Next Top Model was gone — but not for long. In April 2016, just months after the supposed series finale aired, Variety reported that the show was making a comeback. There would, however, be some changes, the least of which was that it would now be airing on an entirely different network, VH1. In addition, Tyra Banks, while continuing her behind-the-scenes role as executive producer, would be stepping back from her on-screen role as host. 

Instead, British pop star Rita Ora was selected as the new host for ANTM‘s 23rd cycle. “I think I was 12 or something when I first noticed [the show] and I’ve just been so obsessed with it,” Ora told CNN

Ora, unfortunately, didn’t make a lasting impression. When VH1 picked up the show for a 24th cycle, Ora was out. Stepping in to replace her was none other than Tyra Banks, reported Variety, with the new cycle offering yet another twist when Banks took to Twitter to share a video, announcing that the age limit for models had been jettisoned. “I don’t care how old you are, honey,” she said to aspiring contestants. 

The uncertain future of America's Next Top Model

After Tyra Banks made her triumphant return in the 24th cycle of America’s Next Top Model (its second on VH1), fans wondered whether the show would return for a 25th. They were in for a long wait, give that the cycle’s finale aired in April 2018, and, as of May 2020, no decision about a new cycle had yet been reached.

Speaking with ABC Audio in February 2020, Banks said that, while a 25th cycle hadn’t yet been confirmed, she was optimistic it would happen, expressing her desire “that we should at least end at 25.”

If America’s Next Top Model were to return for one final swan song season, celebrating its milestone 25th cycle, it would be a fitting end for a groundbreaking reality show that made its mark on television, surviving on three different networks over the course of three different decades. “So, we’re seeing if that could happen,” Banks told ABC Audio. “We shall see.”

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The real reason Sigourney Weaver changed her name

For nearly five decades, actress Sigourney Weaver has commanded the big screen with each iconic role she’s embodied. Weaver’s turn as Ripley in Alien launched her to superstardom in 1979, yet the A-list star never expected to find success as an actress. But it wasn’t because she didn’t have the talent — it was because she was tall. At nearly 6-feet tall, an 11-year-old Weaver “felt like a giant spider,” she told Parade in 2019. “I never had the confidence to ever think I could act.”

Weaver’s stature also made her feel out-of-sync with her real name, Susan. “I was about six feet tall and called Susie or Sue,” Weaver told The Sun (via the Irish Examiner). “Even at 11, I was being shunned by normal-sized children. It led to me changing my name from Susan to Sigourney at 13. I felt too tall to have a short name like that and saw ‘Sigourney’ in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s book The Great Gatsby.” Her parents, however, continued to call her “S” because she loved the initial.

Yet, while the name change made Weaver feel more comfortable, her confidence continued to wane. “I wish I’d had more confidence at 18 — but that lack of confidence lasted until well after that. I was just downright shy,” she added. “Even now, I realize that I am not charming enough on screen to sustain an audience for two hours, without a good script to carry me.” We beg to differ!

Sigourney Weaver's 'difficult' mother didn't boost her confidence

As the child of British thespian Elizabeth Inglis, Ghostbusters star Sigourney Weaver was born with talent in her blood. However, when it came to her own daughter’s emotions and ambitions, Inglis was apparently anything but supportive. Weaver told the Daily Mail that growing up in the shadow of her beautiful mom made her yearn to “be the pretty one,” even though she was bullied for being “a too-tall beanpole.” But when Inglis told her she was “just plain,” she crushed Weaver’s self-esteem.

“I thought, ‘Gee, if your mum doesn’t even think you’re pretty,'” she recalled in 2009. “We had a difficult relationship. My mother was a difficult person to know.” But Weaver insists that Inglis was also her inspiration. “She was a kind of renegade,” she explained. “She left her family and moved to the U.S. because they didn’t want her to be an actress, and she always made her own way in the world.”

In fact, if Weaver could offer her 25-year-old self advice, she would tell her to “just go for it.” “I would say… ‘Just relax, don’t stop having fun because you’re hoping for a job.’ I feel like the universe will sort this out for you,” Weaver told GPS Radar in 2018. “I think you can just be in the moment and you know life will let you know pretty quickly whether you’re on the right path or not.” The right path, indeed.

Sigourney Weaver thinks her 'best days are still to come'

Sigourney Weaver’s unconventional looks have allowed her to assume varied roles throughout her vast career. And now, at age 70, she has no plans to alter her appearance whatsoever. “It’s important to grow old gracefully, and that’s what I plan to do. I am here to stay,” she told The Times Live (via Allure). “I take care of myself, and I have the discipline to stay fit and have good health until I am very old. I’m not planning on retiring, and in many ways, professionally at least, I think my best days are still to come.”

Weaver also told Daily Mail she’s content with the fine lines on her face because when faced with the alternative — Botox or plastic surgery — she finds the look “scary.” “I like getting older,” she said. “There’s nothing more inspiring to me than a woman in her 70s who’s full of life and and still useful. I never notice age in people’s faces. I just look at the whole person.”

Unlike most actresses who feel compelled to get plastic surgery to remain relevant, Weaver relishes the thought of aging. “When you’re young, there’s so much now that you can’t take it in. It’s pouring over you like a waterfall,” she told Esquire in 2009. “When you’re older, it’s less intense, but you’re able to reach out and drink it. I love being older.” We can’t wait to see what’s in store for this talented star!

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The real reason Ben Stiller and Christine Taylor are back together

While relationships between celebs are notorious for being short-lived, once in a while, a couple breaks the mold. For years, Ben Stiller and Christine Taylor were one of those couples, until they announced their split in 2017 after 17 years of marriage and 18 years together.

“With tremendous love and respect for each other, and the 18 years we spent together as a couple, we have made the decision to separate,” they said in a statement (via Us Weekly). “Our priority will continue to be raising our children as devoted parents and the closest of friends. We kindly ask that the media respect our privacy at this time.”

Far from becoming yet another Hollywood statistic, though, Stiller and Taylor later defied the odds. In 2019, the pair were spotted together several times, including at the Emmys, as noted by People. While fans were surprised to see the couple back together, they were also excited to see that the longtime couple had seemingly worked things out. What led to Taylor and Stiller getting back together?

Ben Stiller and Christine Taylor never got divorced

In 2019, a source told Closer Weekly that the couple — who had never finalized their divorce — had never stopped caring for each other and wanted to give their relationship “another shot.” The source added, “[Ben Stiller] never got over her after the split nor was he interested in starting a relationship with anyone else whilst they were separated.”

Through their separation, the couple remained dedicated to co-parenting their children, which may have kept them close. Another source told Star (via Closer Weekly) that Stiller blamed himself for the rough patch and had “started to wonder if he didn’t put enough work into the relationship.” They added, “They had their problems, but Ben knows he’s never going to meet someone like her again.”

While Taylor and Stiller don’t seem to have publicly commented on their relationship status recently, it seems like the celebrity couple may get their happily ever after after all.

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Sister Wives: The reason Robyn and Kody’s marriage is struggling

They say two’s company and three’s a crowd, so it’s only reasonable that in a marriage of five there will be some trials. The polygamist Brown family in the center of TLC’s Sister Wives features patriarch Kody Brown and wives Meri, Christine, Janelle, and Robyn. Together the family has 18 children (3 from Robyn’s previous marriage) and two grandchildren (via Distractify). 

Robyn is the youngest wife at age 41 and mother of 5 of the family’s youngest, as well as the only wife recognized by law. Robyn is also the newest wife and has previously enjoyed a quite happy strong relationship with her husband Kody. Many viewers have widely considered Robyn the “favorite” wife, although the Brown family notes that they all have a say in family life, even if they disagree at times (via TV Show Ace). And while fans may see rivalry, the wives say that any disagreements are usually more about communication issues than true jealousy. As Robyn shares on Twitter, “I am so grateful that Meri and I can sit down and talk out our ‘stuff’.”

So if this plural marriage is happy in wife-land, what could be causing this new rift between Robyn and Kody?

Robyn and Kody are "fighting every single day"

In a recent episode airing on March 15th, Robyn confides her struggles to fellow sister wives. The women are on a group visit to see Meri’s daughter Mariah and her fiancé in Chicago. Robyn is clearly lackluster in this episode, and finally shares with the other women, “I’m just starting to get desperate because I really just don’t want to buy. If we buy a house, then it will delay everything we have planned for the property… I just want to scream every time I think about it.” In this scene, she’s referring to land at Coyote Pass, Arizona, and how Robyn and Kody have differing opinions on how to achieve their communal-living dream. 

Robyn wants to rent or even just go back to Vegas, while Kody wants to buy an interim house immediately. The result has put significant stress on the couple, with Robyn admitting, “this is something that we’re fighting about every single day.” This rift has even become noticeable to her fellow sister wives, with middle wife Christine expressing concern that “Kody and Robyn aren’t doing super great…” (via CheatSheet).

We can only hope that Robyn and Kody will weather this storm.

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