Monday, October 5, 2009

Insurance Companies and Health Care

I haven't said much about the health care issue simply because I don't understand what people aren't understanding about how desperate the situation is. Isn't it pretty simple? 1) Insurance deductables are so high that people cannot afford the out of pocket costs of preventative screening tests. 2) Even when employers "provide" health insurance, the employee portion costs so much that people struggle with the simple cost of living on their now reduced income. 3) COBRA sounds great but the rates are too high for most to afford 5) Physicians are not making health care decisions -- insurance companies dictate what medications and care a patient can receive.

Health insurance rates are so high that employers struggle with the costs, so employees who have health insurance now pay for a portion of the insurance costs. But, in order to afford the costs people choose high deductibles which means many cannot afford recommended preventative screening tests. If a person loses a job which means losing health insurance, the price of buying a single or family health insurance policy is cost prohibitive for many. However, a pre-existing condition will totally eliminate any one's ability to obtain health insurance simply because the company won't even consider someone with such conditions. How many get to age 50 without a pre-existing condition?

But, even if a person with health insurance decides they must seek medical care, it is not the physician who makes all the care decisions. No, the insurance company will dictate which medicine can be prescribed and what procedures are acceptable. Don't kid yourself that medical decisions are made by your and your doctor. Your insurance company is the entity detailing your health care. I laughed when Sarah Palin threatened "death panels" under President Obama's health care proposals. Darling Sarah, we already have "death panels" and they are the insurance companies.

I do not profess to totally understand the Public Option that send many into nasty, uncivilized protests, but I am pretty sure that without a public option the insurance status quo will prevail. If employers would readily dump their insurance coverage because employees would have a public option, what does that say? Employers should not have to offer health care and employees may even receive more take home pay if a public option was available. A public option doesn't mean you have to purchase it but for those of us rejected by insurance companies or do not have the money to afford their coverage, the public option would be a god send.

And don't give me the argument that the government can't run programs. Any bureaucracy has issues but the Post Office, Medicare, the Armed Forces, and public education -- while not without problems -- have served the public well. Of course there are issues. But the good done by these agencies outweigh the bad. If the private sector refuses to serve the public good then let the government have at it. Maybe that will be the nudge the insurance companies need to clean up their acts.

What I would like is to have the nay sayers offer positive solutions, the fear mongers to offer realistic concerns, the name callers to grow up. I would like the religious right to actually stop and reflect on "What Would Jesus Do", the socialism-phobes to take a look at European countries and see what does work for them/why/how, and everyone to stop thinking only of themselves. I do not believe we, as a country, can survive without caring for each other.


Cheryle said...

Oh, how this post struck home! I need two (!) knee replacements and an operation on my throat for sleep apnea, all of which are waiting three years until I'm on Medicare. I just can't afford my $5,000 deductible on Social Security. In fact, if not for Jim, I wouldn't even be able to afford health insurance at all!

To add insult to injury, my doctor prescribed an ointment for relief of the excruciating pain in my left knee. When I went to pick it up, I was told that my insurance company requires pre-authorization for it - which they declined to give.

I'm so tired of some pencil-pusher overriding my doctor's choices that I could scream. Thanks for the post - and the chance to vent!

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