Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Do YOU know how your medical care is decided?

I am not a great big fan of health insurance. I think it is basically a scam. But at least I have employer subsidized health insurance, and for that I am pretty grateful. I would really resent having to pay it entirely out of pocket.

Years ago I lived and worked in Ireland and I have a very vague memory of earning points towards health care, if you paid taxes you got health care - something like that. The few times I had to go see a doctor (or GP as they are called over there) I seem to remember they decided my payment that way. I dunno, it could have been sliding scale maybe. Eh, I could be imagining it.

However, I still think that forcing people to buy health insurance is a bad idea. It's insurance, not health care. You can pay for health insurance and still not be able to afford health care. And here in Massachusetts if you don't get health insurance, you'll be fined per uninsured month. And the fines aren't cheap.

Univeral health insurance is a misguided plan. And every single person who tells me that it is GREAT that EVERYONE now has access to HEALTH CARE is someone who a) doesn't pay full price because they either are covered through work or by a spouse, and b) doesn't get the difference between health CARE and health INSURANCE.

I've gone through uninsured times and I used to go to the community health center. Because I made a little too much money for free care, I paid on a sliding scale, usually between $30 and $50 a visit. Luckily I am a pretty healthy person. However now you can't even do that anymore. The only option to any uninsured is to go to the emergency room. If you want to test this theory out, call up the Joseph Smith Health Center in Brighton and ask them if they will see you even though you haven't got insurance. I give this example because when I was most recently without health insurance I had a terrible sore throat and called them up to see if I could go be seen by a doctor there. They said no, not without insurance and that without insurance the only place to be treated was the emergency room. Great.

The other draw back of being uninsured is that the prescriptions would kill me. An inhaler for asthma would run me $70 bucks. A pack of baby stoppers would run me $30. Because when you pay $7 or $10 for a prescription with insurance, that is the insurers negotiated cost. Not the street cost. It's a fricking racket.

And I think that things are going to get worse. The Globe is running a health care spotlight. Kind a tedious read, but worth it. It's a frightening thought to consider that one day just one or two insurance companies could run all the hospitals. That would suck if you were considered to be a high-risk because cancer runs in the family, or maybe you have multiple sclerosis. Or diabetes. I wonder what your premiums would be like then? And I also wonder, how will people start to feel if employers start dropping the health care benefit? It's a benefit after all, not a right.

As for me I am still lucky as far as my health goes. Knock on wood.

1 comment:

forHealth said...

I have been pretty lucky in that local docs will take cash and give me a self-pay discount. Pretty dumb for clinics to turn down patients who are will to pay cash in full at time of service. Insurers can take 45-120 days to pay a claim. Dumb. Dumb. Dumb.