For years now, there’s been a lot of buzz about health care. We all know that health care costs are out of control. Few of us think that the way things are done now is the best way…but there is no consensus on what would make it better.
I’m very lucky. I have always been covered by excellent health care policies that have affordable copays, fairly low deductables, and when I need a doctor, I don’t have to think twice about seeing one. When I get those EOBs from the insurance company, or statements from a health care provider, I am reminded just how lucky I am. I know that far too many people aren’t able to get the kind of care I do.
The idea of “socialized” (I hate that word, so overused and catchphrasy now) medicine sounds good and noble. Every country that has such a plan is healthier than the USA in just about any measurable way (life span, infant mortality, etc.) The reality, though, is that it’s an idea destined to turn into yet another in a long line of government boondoggles. Imagine a DMV-like experience everytime you get the flu. Government has a way of turning everything into an overly-complicated, overpriced, maze of regulations, paperwork, and headache. There’s much buzz about “rationing” and “waiting lists” in countries that have national health care…but the jury is still out on those as far as I’m concerned…much of what I read from citizens in those countries is positive, and such negative examples seem to be the exception latched on to for maximum “boogey man” effect by those who don’t want to see such plans here in the USA.
I think it’s pretty much universally accepted that prevention is better all around than a cure. If we can nip something minor in the bud before it turns into a more serious illness, not only is quality of life improved, but it lowers health care costs. So many low income people use emergency rooms as their doctor’s office. It is the most inefficient use of medical dollars imaginable. If they can’t pay (and the doctors I know inform me that 90 percent of them can’t) the hospital has to write it off. (Or, in other words, pass those costs on to those of us who can pay.) It just makes good sense to give everyone access to preventative care…I get that.
I don’t know if this is how things are done nationwide or not, but here in South Carolina, folks who are eligible for Medicaid now have the ability to sign up with a handful of private insurers. I think, but don’t know, that this is relatively new, because I’ve only recently noticed these private Medicaid providers advertising. And I heard one ad this morning that made my blood boil. Basically, this policy provides unlimited, zero copay doctor’s appointments. Great, this is in line with getting early and preventative care. I don’t begrudge that. It also pays for bi-annual oral exams, cleanings, fillings, and minor extractions. Well, OK, but I’ve read in reputable journals that people with good oral health could really get by with a once a year cleaning. Still, I won’t begrudge that.
But what does start to get my ire up is that this Medicaid plan also pays for contact lens fittings, and for the lenses themselves, including disposables. (Something that none of my top-notch insurance plans have EVER covered even in part.) Does it make me a bad person to think that folks relying on the government for their health care needs can make do just fine with a less expensive glasses exam and a nice pair of spectacles?
But what pushed me over the edge is that this plan offers pregnant women and new moms “gift card rewards” for KEEPING THEIR APPOINTMENTS. They get paid to keep appointments that aren’t costing them a dime! Ok, prenatal care is important. Newborn care is important. I get all that. But if it’s already being provided for FREE, how in the world can “gift card rewards” be justified??
As usual, I don’t have any answers, but this is an issue we will be hearing a lot more about. It’s one I think we all need to research and stay informed on. The current way of doing things isn’t working, but whatever changes happen must make the situation better, not worse.