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Podcast: The Paradox Of Oil

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Podcast: The Paradox Of Oil

Podcast

Podcast: The Paradox Of Oil

Gregory Schiedeler buys gum on the street in Angola from this teenager named Minguito. Gregory Schiedeler hide caption

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Gregory Schiedeler

Gregory Schiedeler buys gum on the street in Angola from this teenager named Minguito.

Gregory Schiedeler

Podcast: The Paradox Of Oil

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/113952062/127423927" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

On today's Planet Money:

Two people who work down the block from each other, who have often wondered about each other, but never spoken.

Gregory Schiedler works for a foreign oil company in Angola's capital Luanda. He lives in a gated community, gets driven to work every day and is responsible for spending one billion dollars in the next year. Gregory has very little interaction with Angolans except for one, the teenager who sells him chewing gum.

Minguito works on the streets of Angola selling cigarettes, shoe shines and gum to foreigners like Gregory and anyone else who wants to buy them. He's tired of working on the street and running from the police, but he says he feels like he has no choice.

Retired U.S. diplomat Herman Cohen explains why billions of dollars of oil money flowing into Angola have done little to help the people who live there.

Bonus: After the jump, another side of competition in health care.

Download the podcast; or subscribe. Intro music: The Submarine's "You, Me & the Bourgeoisie." Find us: Twitter/ Facebook/ Flickr.

Ronald A. writes:

I recently had a conversation with my primary care doctor that reveals another side of "competition" in health care pricing.

"Dr. Bill, when I visit your office, I pay you a $15 co-pay, and my insurer pays you $15; so you get a total of $30. But you have to pay a biller/coder to code and submit the claim, and you have to wait 45 days to get paid. What if I just paid you cash for the visit? Wouldn't it be cheaper for you to charge me, say $25? for a cash visit?"

"Oh no," he said, "It doesn't work that way. My 'List' price is $135.00 for an office visit. The insurer made me sign an agreement wherein I agree to give them an enormous discount from my 'List' price AND I must charge everyone else the 'List' price." My list price has to be high enough that I can pay my bills after the negotiated discount."

"What?!?" I said, "You mean if I DIDN'T have any insurance, you'd charge me $135 for this visit?

"Yes," Dr. Bill said, "If I didn't charge you $135, the insurer would banish me from their 'network of providers' list. Their contract with me states that I can't give anybody else as good a deal as with them. I have to show that I made every attempt to collect the full fee from other patients, including submitting the bill to a collection agency if you couldn't pay....I can't just 'write it off', and I can't charge you less for paying with cash."