2009-11-24

Healthcare and Ignorance, Coupled with Lies


Before Obama was nominated for president---even before there was anybody actually saying they were running for office for 2008, I knew something had to be done about our healthcare system here in the USA. We were ranked 37th in the world in quality of healthcare, while spend much more than any of the countries who ranked above us. On top of that, our system excludes many people from good health care by limiting access by the uninsured, by charging exorbitant insurance rates, by denying claims, by denying health insurance because of preexisting conditions, etc.

Those thirty-six countries above us, though, the ones with better health care results included everyone in their health care system. For example, if I had gone to France on vacation and broken my leg, I would have been taken to a French Hospital nearby without charge. Then I would have had my leg cast, etc., done without charge. Finally, if rehabilitation were needed, I would also receive that without charge. I am talking about an American vacationing in France, not a permanent resident, or someone on a green card (or French equivalent).

What we have, then, is superior healthcare available to everyone without any direct charge for the services rendered in most cases versus a system that does not cover about 50 million citizens and that charges for almost everything to either the insurance company that may very well deny the charges, or to the individual who is sick.

Another advantage of our system, besides the limitations on who can get good care and with enormous costs to the individuals who are sick. In one year, with no major problems with which to deal, my wife & I spent $20,000 out of pocket for healthcare; and we had insurance!

So in the USA sick people not only get to pay enormous amounts, individually, for their healthcare coverage and/or healthcare itself. They also get to be sick. How lucky can you get? You are sick; and you have to pay for being sick. Then the real problems begin:
YOU HAVE TO FIGHT THE REJECTED CLAIMS!
YOU HAVE TO FIGHT THE RETURNED CLAIMS THAT WERE RESUBMITTED.
YOU GET TIRED FROM FIGHTING SO MANY BILLING PROBLEMS AND REJECTED CLAIMS THAT YOU FINALLY GIVE UP!

This isn't just a problem on the sick person's end of our healthcare system. It is also a problem for the providers. Your doctor's office has to have the ability to fill out several different kinds of forms for different problems and even more different forms for different insurers or providers.

In France the same form is used by all health care providers and there is only one healthcare system with the same form and the same payment. There are many other good things about the French system; but they are not directly related to this post.

Since this system of healthcare, the system France, England, Canada, Australia, and most of the other nations who rank higher than the USA works so well, you would think we would want to try to copy that system as much as we could.

We didn't, though. Instead we simply are going to force people to purchase insurance from the very insurance companies and providers who have been bilking the sick of their hard-earned money for decades.

I am surprised and happy that we are finally have a bill in the Senate of the USA that will beginning the transformation of our health system into something better. I am very unhappy that this bill will cost even more than our current system, will still not include all people, and will still have nothing in it to reduce the cost or improve the quality of healthcare.

There are some good things about the bill: elimination of preexisting conditions from consideration for insurance is an example. What it appears, though, is that there will still be no direct competition between the insurance companies whose objective isn't to provide the best healthcare possible, but to make the greatest profit possible. Anything in this bill to limit the insurance companies will simply require them to spend a little time figuring out how to continue to screw the sick out of their money without providing good healthcare.

On top of that through taxes, the American people will be picking up some of the money will go to the insurance companies, NOT directly to health care but through a profit making company!

Why? Why aren't we using a system similar to those countries who are ahead of us in quality of healthcare? It is simple. It is because it is being caused "the beginning of socialized medicine." Now even if it is totally wrong, everyone knows that socialized medicine doesn't work. You don't get to choose your doctor. You have long lines to wait in for care, etc., etc., etc. I say entirely wrong, because none of the things wrong is actually wrong, or greatly exaggerated.

My wife had to wait four months to see a neurologist in Louisville, Kentucky, one of the major health centers of our nation even though she was insured. I have spoken to a Canadian friend who waited a little longer for that for surgery; but the surgery was completely successful. She was healed; but instead of spending hundreds or thousands of dollars for that surgery, she walked out of the hospital with a bill of...............NOTHING!

My wife, Gay, on the other hand, had to pay a copay to see her physician, a percentage of each procedure the doctor ordered, etc. This was in addition to having already paid the total out-of-pocket costs for some parts of her policy. Likewise the medications she was required to take were costing us about $800 per month COPAY! Most of those, by the way, were generics; but the ones that were not were VERY expensive. One 30-day prescription for a 1/2 ounce bottle of eye drops had a $125/month copay on it; and she used four different drops!

I am happy we have a bill on the floors of congress that will help a little toward improving healthcare; but I shall be deeply disappointed if they do not work on this bill some more before passing it. I will be angry if there is no bill passed; but if it passes as it is, it is just not going to be as helpful nor will it save as much as it could.

I believe we, like most of the developed world, should adopt a single payer healthcare system, which the Republicans call "socialized medicine." They never call the Insterstate Highway system "socialized roads," nor the Marine Corps "socialized military." They don't call the Post Office "socialized correspondence," nor the local fire department, "socialized fire protection. Besides that, all of these things work and work well.

I don't know how much longer I shall live; but for the rest of my life I shall continue to work as hard as I can to get the United States to work toward a health system not based in profit but in care. I may not succeed; but I shall be joyful in working toward the goal.

2009-07-13