Dr. George F. Warren of Mount Pleasant has won The Post and Courier’s Golden Pen award for July for his letter to the editor, “Zeal for high health-care profits gives patients a losing deal.”

Dr. Warren, a physician, decried the “huge differences in the amount charged by hospitals for the same procedure in the same area,” writing:

“A patient comes face to face with the real health-care industry only when health issues arise that result in a bill to the patient. In the past, doctors and hospitals cast a wide net in order to snag every possible insurance dollar. Today, the same inflated net is used, but now it is snagging the patient’s dollar, too. The problem is even worse for the person with no insurance, who pays at least 70 percent of the inflated figure.”

Dr. Warren gave, as an example of medical-care sticker shock, a detailed rundown of the charges that recently added up to a $2,495.86 bill for a local “young pregnant lady” who “received intravenous fluids over a six-hour period, while being observed in an exam room.”

And: “A person looking at the resultant hospital bill would assume two people cared for the patient: one for the IV and one for the pregnancy condition. Not so.

“In other worlds, this is called double dipping. In total, the patient’s care came to $1,364 or $227 per hour.”

Dr. Warren added:

“If each person studies his bill, we could begin to understand why health costs are prohibitive, and why many in our community and nation cannot afford health care. We are alone when we open these statements from providers and then sit in dark corners in resignation because we have no help.”

He concluded: “To fight back, we, the general consumer, need a superhero. Our elected officials do not fit that description because they are receiving campaign donations from hospitals and insurance companies.

Lobbying efforts by the health profit, insurance, and pharmaceutical industries are at the top of any list and out-distance all other lobbying groups by millions. Where is Superman when we need him?”

Golden Pen winners are invited to an annual luncheon with the editorial staff.