Monday, July 14, 2008

Patient, Heal Thyself

When I first married, we had no medical insurance. Actually, we didn't have any insurance until we'd been married nearly three years. Our first two children arrived without benefit of health insurance which meant that we paid both hospital bill and doctor bill on our own. Fortunately, the hospital bill for the first one was around three hundred dollars and the second one was a tad more--around three hundred and fifty. The doctor bills for delivery were one hundred and seventy five dollars each. Of course forty years ago that was still a lot of money. My take home pay for a month was two hundred dollars.

Now--now hospital bills are outrageous and doctor bills are that high just for an office visit. Unfortunately, nothing much as changed. Most young married couples have no health insurance because they're working in dead-end, minimum wage jobs where health benefits are not provided. My husband and I will be facing the exact same thing when he retires--minimal health benefits that we have to pay for out of our retirement income. If for some terrible reason he were to die before retirement, I wouldn't even have minimal health insurance. And with the raft of pre-existing conditions I have, buying it would cost more than my pitiful income.

How did our country reach this impasse? Why are our elderly forced to decide between food and medication? Why are our children missing critical well visits? Why do our young adults have to put off non-critical surgeries?

And more importantly why are insurance companies deciding which health services are eligible for coverage? Why to they get to decide that I should have surgery for a stubborn kidney stone rather than a newer, less invasive lithotripsy? At some point, something went wrong. Now doctors find themselves prevented from serving the patient's best interests because of the limitations set by the insurance company. And as they say, the insurance companies have us all by the short and curlies. Who can afford to pay for their own medical costs?

It will be interesting to see what Congress does under new leadership after November. Will there be changes? Or will we continue in the same self-destructive path we're on?



  1. Oh this is going to be an interesting week--got lots to say on this one. Great start, as usual!

  2. One of my pet peeves is why do I have to change doctors just because the insurance says so? I refused to change docs several years ago, and told him about the problem. He very graciously worked with us until my hubby's union switched insurance programs again, and now he's back in 'their' system! But a lot of people don't have that option.

    In addition to the medical, I wish dental and optical were also offered (affordably!) to everyone!

  3. Yes, Molly, I completely agree about dental and optical. I'd be very interested to know, too, why those who have suffered depression find their premiums are three to four times higher than anyone else. Awful. And yes...I fall into that category.

    I heard recently that vascectomies are covered yet birth control pills are NOT. Isn't that stupid???

  4. OMG! I so totally agree! I had to stop taking mine because they wanted me to order them 3 months in advance, through mail-order. My dr even tried prescribing them for paramenapausal symptoms, but still rejected. And when you're on a limited budget, and hubby's heart meds are a MUST, some choices must be made. And as for the optical...Hubby had his eyes fixed (lens implants)this winter, and my teens need new glasses too. I've come to the conclusion I'll just have to go blind or throw a colossal fit before he agrees to let me get mine examined!

    So...vasectomies are covered? Must look into this in further detail:)

  5. It's that 'pre-existing condition' crap...and the fact depression (w/o treatment..hello, insurance co!) can become suicidal. Kind of makes you wonder about the mentality of the person who writes their policies and procedures...are they anti-mankind, or do they have a special pact with the drug companies? Specifically mood-enhancers.

  6. Well, how they pick and choose what to cover and what NOT to cover is a mystery. Why vasectomies and not birth control when there are issues like abortion and too many teen pregnancies hovering. Maybe because men are less likely to have vasectomies as opposed to the millions of women who depend on birth control?

    I think the pharmaceutical companies and insurance companies are in cahoots.

  7. *Snort* You don't want to know what that little "blue" pill costs then... not to mention my cholesterol meds.

  8. I know exactly what I'm writing about tomorrow. Because there is so much more to the story than what the consumer sees. Unfortunately, the dumping ground of "the insurance company" is an acceptable format in our society. But yeah, there's a lot going on behind the scenes. I used to work for four different companies and while I get it, cause I'm gasping through this process now, there is another culprit... and it ain't the insurance company.

  9. Excellent post, Anny. As I've had several surgeries due to injury over the past few years, I've become convinced there is a special place in hell for the adjusters who manage to get out of paying for enough of the bills that my end winds up in the thousands.


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