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If restaurants billed like hospitals, you’d probably stop going out to eat

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If restaurants billed like hospitals, going out to eat would be a downright miserable experience.

Rachel Feierman at Philadelphia radio station WHYY is working on a larger project that aims to increase transparency around health-care prices. She also posted this great graphic, which imagines a world in which restaurants worked like hospitals — billing for any service they provided, no matter how small.

The waiter provided a greeting? That will be 43 cents. Asking if everything is okay? Another 62 cents. Serving the food would cost an additional $1.64. Anything ranging from the chair you sat in to the utensils you used and your trip to the bathroom would come with a charge.

You see this happen in health care all the time; hospitals charge for pretty much anything they can, down to each individual Tylenol pill handed out to their patients.

As with health care, these wouldn't be things the customer requested. But they are services the restaurant provided, and so the customer ends up with a bill. The prices are, of course, nonsensical: there's no reason delivering a bill should cost a different amount than a greeting.

And, of course, none of these prices would be listed anywhere: they'd just turn up in the form of a receipt at the end of the meal — and the customer would be stuck with the bill.

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