There's nothing more American than not knowing how much you're going to pay

I saw a comment to this effect on a Hacker News article discussing the fees US ISPs tack on to their published rates the other day. The sentiment really struck a chord with me.

This reminded me of the last two times I tried to seek healthcare in the USA. The first time, it began with the hospital refused to provide me with a bill ("we don't do that here") and a massive insurance-medical-debt drama consumed a few dozen hours of my life. The second time, learning from the first, I tried my hardest to pay in advance for services. This turned out to be a Herculean task and seemed to sour the day for all the people involved in taking care of the-guy-who-wants-to-pay-now.

It's not only in healthcare, the price displayed in the USA...if there is rarely the final price you pay at almost any's higher. In the case of restaurants, I hear it's now up to 30 or 40% higher. And people's headline salaries are never the amount of money they're actually paid.

Not knowing how much you're going to have to pay or how much you'll get paid is one of those things that you just sort of accept as normal when you grow up in that environment. During the school day, you're taught about the greatness of the free market and the power of prices only to go to lunch and face the paradox of paying some amount which is not $5 to purchase a $5 sandwich.

Once you've lived literally anywhere else, the whole situation appears absolutely insane. How can a nation that purports to worship the free market and the principles of supply and demand live like this?