Pullin’ Out the Soapbox on Health Care

30 03 2009


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.




13 responses

30 03 2009

Well, maybe you’ll feel better knowing that people who get Medicare have to sit in hot stinky Medicare offices for DAYS before they can get any benefits, or disposable contact lenses.

Not that I’ve ever been on Medicare.

30 03 2009
The Vinyl Villager

well of course I dont feel better. But jeesh…if thats how the govt. runs just that portion of health care, I shudder to think what a mess it would be if they were running the show for all of us.

30 03 2009
Little Miss

I have been working with a Canadian colleague and she was enlightening me on how un-free the free health care was. She was taxed here and there to the tune of, IIRC, well over 50% of her income. Free is never free. Someone pays for it.

I think the answer is not in universal health care run by the government – the government hasn’t shown me yet that they know how to manage spending, so what makes me think this would be any different. I think the solution should start with insurance company reform. Their greed and “managed” care where you have to have two doctor visits for every instance (one for the primary care physician, and one for the specialist) – that’s part of what’s wrong.

31 03 2009
Noe Noe Girl

I think everyone should be able to have healthcare and I wish I had an answer. I see things wrong with Medicare (one being the damn gift card-pleeeez)but it is better than nothing.

31 03 2009

Medicare is a nightmare. One would think that by the time you hit a certain age, worked hard and raised a family all your life, the gov. would help.
I’ve been trying for 2 yrs to get any help I can get for my Dad from Medicare…..fucking joke. They finally sent out help. All they would do is talk to him, take his blood pressure, etc. Ahhhh, how bout giving me a few hours bitches !! Oh, and don’t even get me started on trying to get a hospital bed!!
So what it boils down to is that he will have to fall, seriously get hurt, then medicare will hopefully step up.

31 03 2009

The way our healthcare system is being run now is a complete joke. That being said, I don’t know if a “socialized” medical care system is the answer for our country either. The problem is that everyone involved wants what is best for them. The insurance companies, hospitals, doctors…everyone wants the money. Seems the original reason for helping people has gotten lost in the greed. But I agree with you about the government involvement. Everytime they step in, it becomes so much more complicated. So I don’t know the answer either. But I wish I did. Not having health insurance for the first time ever (my wife & kids are covered, I can’t seem to find affordable care because of back pain that I’ve had for years), I was feeling a little scared, until my parents told me that they NEVER had insurance and have just paid out of pocket as they go. For some reason, that made me feel better.

Not the best plan, I admit, but if they aren’t gonna give me options, I don’t know what else to do!

31 03 2009
The Incredible Woody

Just another in the myriad of things that need fixed but with no real answer.

I have a friend from Scotland where they have ‘socialized’ medical care. She says that the quality of medical care is very, very low. But it’s free so you learn not to expect much.

31 03 2009

My insurance covers contacts…as has every policy I’ve had for the last 15 years or so, even after corporate “stepped in” and made some horrendous changes to Hunny’s available coverage…maybe your policy isn’t as good as you think..? Or maybe you haven’t explored it in depth..?
Having been on Medicade as young (17 years old), pregnant female, I can tell you it’s not worth it. To begin with, you’re treated differently. Both attitudewise, and care wise. Granted some people just don’t care, but regardless of who you are, you have a right to be treated like a person, which treatment really ceases when the dreaded “welfare” payment form is uttered. It was many years ago, and only for a short time, and it was a case of true need. But it colored my view of people in general. Even other patients looked down on the welfare recipient.
Do I think everyone deserves medical care? Most certainly. Do I think government has the answer? Most certainly not. In order for healthcare costs to be reduced, we have to go back to the source of the ridiculous costs. Is it people not paying? In part. But more than that, it is a group of arrogant, greedy, self-serving people. Who are these people you ask..? Well, they are the people who run the universities. Betcha didn’t see that coming, didja? But let’s look at this from a new angle. Why does it cost such ridiculous amounts of money to attend college? JUST TO GO! You’re talking 5 to 6 figures just for the honor of setting foot in the building. Doesn’t include books, lodging, food, recreation (entirely necessary). If our physicians weren’t having to start their adult, professional lives so deep in debt they really can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel, they wouldn’t have to charge such exorbitant fees. They wouldn’t be afraid to offer care at prices people could afford. Once the fees decrease, the insurance companies could lower the cost of policies. Employers could offer more & better coverage. Self-employed could afford coverage – or even – Goddess forbid – not need coverage, just PAY FOR THEIR CARE.
Oh yeah, we need to look at malpractice practices, also. Doctors are HUMAN. They make mistakes. You know this when you go to them. When you walk into a location & ASK FOR HELP, you should be thankful that help is available. I’m pretty sure there aren’t many doctors out there intentionally causing harm to people…so why is it ok to hold this profession to a higher standard? Expect PERFECTION from them..? If a utility worker makes an error and paints the yellow line crooked, and someone has a wreck & kills someone else, is the utility worker to blame? Or is the driver who ignored common sense to drive in a manner he KNEW to be incorrect? What happened to taking responsibility for one’s actions? Today, everything is someone else’s fault, and everyone expects someone else to fix what they broke, with a smile on their face and a willingness to follow them around cleaning up their messes…
Damm V V, I did it again! Who needs a blog..? I just post here *grin* Sorry…

31 03 2009
The Vinyl Villager

woo hoo! This is just the can of worms I had hoped to open–hearing all of your ideas and experiences is awesome!

One thing that came to mind after I wrote this…a few years back I had minor surgery. My doc recommended doing it in the outpatient surgical suite, saying it would be 5 or 6 thousand LESS than doing it at the hospital. Why?? I still had my doc. I still had an anesthesiologist, I still had nurses. Why the difference if I had done it across the street? Then came the statement from the providers. All told, my initial statements totaled up to almost $14,000 for this minor outpatient procedure. A few weeks later, when I got the EOB from the insurance company all those amounts had been reduced to a “pre-agreed price”, and reduced by nearly half. So if Id been a self payer they would have expected me to cough up twice as much? How does that work?

31 03 2009

When it comes to health care I could rant for days about my poor Mother in law, and how much J. and I have to do just to keep her from crushing uner mounds of paperwork! Medicare, my ass! Or, the issues with J., my husband, and how we have to go through so much crap just to get into to stand by his side if he is in there.

Like I said, I could go on and on and on, but I think AIG has spoken well enough for the insurance industry!

May the Bird of Paradise shit in their navels!

31 03 2009
Big Hair Envy

***takes hat off to Jodi***

I’d like to add one other little tidbit. We have a high school friend who is now a local physician. The last time I went in for a checkup, he and I both happened to be going through the business insurance renewal process. I was ranting about the cost of our professional liability insurance, but quickly shut up when he shared that HIS yearly prof. liab. ins. is six figures…..

…’nuf said.

31 03 2009

I can’t even comment on this…hehe.

I don’t even think I want to open my mouth.

31 03 2009

I don’t understand being rewarded for keeping your appointment! I never get it when people get applause for doing what they’re supposed to do. Like when men say “I pay my child support” as if they were tithing for a charity or something.
I fed my dogs today, what’ll you give me?

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