Monday, March 16, 2009

Insurance Companies Determine the Price?

My visit to the infusatorium was borderline uneventful, but my 15-second IV "push" takes about two hours from start to finish. Today I spent much of the time thinking about our broken health care system. First...if I were able to work, would I be able to keep a job when I need to take off at least four hours a week for treatment, not including travel time? And if not, would I have to schedule my chemo for evening hours, and go through this after working an 8-hour day?

The other thing I thought about, as I always do, was the financial aspect of treatment. An uninsured patient might go for an MRI and get charged, oh, let's say $1,500. An insured patient has the same MRI, but the insurance company says, "Sorry, we only pay $800 for MRIs." And the medical facility accepts that as payment in full. Why? Why does anyone find this acceptable? (Okay, this wasn't a good example, because uninsured people don't get $1,500 MRIs; instead, they DIE.)

Let's consider a different example. My car gets dinged in a parking lot. I take it to a body shop, and they say, "That'll be $1,500 for a new bumper." They don't adjust the bill because my car is insured! They charge every customer the same amount, whether or not the damage is covered by insurance.

Why aren't health care services compensated the same way? It's such a bad system, and the greedy insurance companies have been gorging themselves for so long. I know getting the economy stabilized is Job One, but I hope President Baracky hasn't forgotten that he was elected by people who expect Job Two to be a complete, top-to-bottom overhaul of health care. We are way past "fixing" the current system. It's time to throw it out and start over.


Anonymous said...

re "top-to-bottom overhaul of health care":
despite popular support (according to surveys) for single-payer, all indications are that "the obama plan" will be a variation of the enforced insurance-purchase mandate mess we have in massachusetts (a version of which californians voters were savvy enough to reject a while back).

insurance companies seem to be pretty happy with the arrangement here (duh). ordinary folks, not so much - except for those with sufficiently low incomes to have their premiums heavily subsidized.

when i was a teen, i read an article in my parents' Consumer Reports advocating single-payer. i remember thinking it made so much sense, it was sure to happen before i was an adult. well, that was decades ago, so i don't think i'll hold my breath waiting for it, even though it seems more likely now than at any time in the past.

on the plus side, it doesn't seem things could get any worse. :-(

best, gina

La Cootina said...

Yeah, poor people are really crappy lobbyists. They have no idea who to pay off, or how much. Then, there's the problem of actual funds...

Still, I hold a glimmer of hope just because the Obamas were community advocates. They've had a front-line view of the system's inequities, as opposed to the congresspigs, who have voted themselves the most comprehensive health benefits on the planet. I say, at the very least, take THAT away from them and make them BUY from the available plans. That would get things moving...