Recently, a friend posted on social media about her daughter’s trip to the ER following an unexpected accident. As a mom, of course my first thought was: that would be terrible if I had to rush my son to the ER. Soon after that thought came the guilt of this: the first reason I should feel horrible is that my son would be hurt/sick/in danger; then why is it that the first thought is how much a trip to the ER would hurt our family budget?
The answer to this lies in three parts. Our for-profit insurance system, the business side of the medical field, and the lack of addressing either by hour representatives in our state and Washington.
The idea of insurance is so great, having people contribute in the case of ill-health of someone else. It shows such a strong sense of community. The idea became tainted in the 1970s when greedy business decided they could make profit off of someone’s potential misfortune. I think I heard somewhere that a certain big-name insurance company statistically makes $1 million per minute. I can certainly believe it. I don’t care if you are for or against Obamacare; you just need to be pro-saving money.
Let’s breakdown the costs a little of my situation. I will point out that I am beyond blessed to work at an institution where my health insurance is paid for; if I were to add members to my plan, it would cost upwards of about $500. Therefore, I have a completely separate plan for my son. I pay between $260 and $300 per month for him in premiums just to keep the plan. This is what I’m guessing is an average cost per child for other families as well. Keep in mind, my son is probably just like 90% of the rest of the children out there: healthy, only needed to visit the doctor for recommended check-ups, vaccinations, and the occasional virus….so I pay about $3000 a year just to keep up that little routine. Of course that doesn’t go towards the actual medical costs billed to my insurance and then to me, like making a co-pay towards to 5-minute visit with the doctor, prescriptions, possible procedures, etc. until I “meet my deductible.” What a laugh. Luckily my son’s deductible is less than $5000, but it’s a little ridiculous that people have to scrape up $5000 before the company they’re paying about $3000 per year decides to cover some of the cost. And usually it’s only 80%. It’s outrageous how those premiums and deductibles can waver from year-to-year, based on how “those in charge” want it to work. And the fact that there’s a lifetime cap for spending? Sorry, a pre-existing condition doesn’t abide to your boundaries. Doesn’t it make you wonder who’s controlling the insurance companies and assuring that they are being fair? It seems like the answer would be no one.
The second part of this obnoxiousness is the cost of medical services. I recently watched a video about a soon-to-be dad’s attempts to find out the out-of-pocket cost for his wife’s upcoming birth. Same story here, but I didn’t go as far as to spend hours of my busy day making pointless calls. Side note: the medical billing department of the healthcare services in our area is useless, but that’s a completely different story. On February 25, I had a normal, healthy delivery and stayed in the hospital less than 48 hours. With the epidural, the total bill came to $15,000. $15,000. Let that sink in. No surgery. $15,000. That’s the cost of a new car, a down-payment on a house. Now, the epidural was $2000 of that, and I would have gladly paid full price to make sure I had that, but $13,000 for a normal delivery is ridiculous. But I was sooooooo lucky that I got “discounts” with my insurance (insert eye-roll emoji), and had already pre-paid my deductible, so I only owed about $1000 out of pocket for myself….and $1,600 for my son who was also in the hospital less than 48 hours and was in perfect health. There was no detailed description on the bill stating each cost, but I can pretty well assure that everything done would be well over-priced. Again, who’s controlling these? Who’s making the decisions to make the costs of medical procedures and visits what they are? My favorite was when the afore mentioned medical billing forgot to bill the insurance for my son’s 2-month vaccinations and sent me the whole bill. It was over $800. For PREVENTATIVE, COMMON vaccinations administered by an LPN. I actually laughed out loud (once I made a call to straighten out the billing error). Insurance companies and healthcare providers so strongly encourage vaccines (and we are VERY pro-vaccine), but then they think they can charge $800? That means if I didn’t have insurance, I would have to come up with $800? Just like insurance, our medical field needs monitoring and stat.
The driving force behind both, in my opinion, is the lack of work in addition to the symbiotic relationship our politicians have with both the insurance companies and the people in charge of the finances in the medical world. Think about it: why else are we fighting so hard to repeal Obamacare and pass Trumpcare (again, your opinion on it is pointless) instead of passing laws that prevent these companies from committing a reverse Robin Hood and stealing from middle-class America to give to the rich? And I love it when they offer solutions like investing money in a health savings account. Yeah, that’s all well and good when you have that extra $100,000 just lying around, waiting to be invested so when we do have a medical need we can just withdraw from that. I have it waiting alongside my yacht, Ferrari, and Olympic-sized pool….
I think I do pretty well to save what I do each month, and 99% of America is probably in the same boat as me, and it’s just a basic fishing boat, not a yacht. So don’t tell me I can take my savings and put it into a health savings account like you do. The problem is, none of these three groups wants to go at each other, because they all have potentially something to lose. And they want to keep you in the dark and paying insane costs, because they know you think there’s nothing you can do about it.
Instead of fighting over the Obamacare/Trumpcare issue, maybe some of our very well-paid politicians could go after the real enemies of our nation.