We all have horror stories involving either health care, insurance or both. To say that both industries are in need of reform is an understatement. Sadly, I doubt this will ever happen. There is just too much money changing hands in the right circles to let a little thing like screwing over the bulk of our great nation get in the way of overstuffing already overflowing coffers.
I blame a lot of the soaring cost of medical expenses on our litigious masses. We as a nation have arrived at a point where we sue at the drop of a hat. Now don’t get me wrong, there are legitimate complaints out there that should be compensated, but they are bogged down in the system by the people who are just looking for a quick buck. I don’t understand the underlying sense of entitlement that must surely be the root of this phenomenon. They have it. I want it. I’ll sue for it. Sounds like a great way to make a living to me… of course, it probably comes with a pretty heavy karmic cost.
Malpractice suits seem to be an easy target for these “get-rich-quickers”. Every time they sue, win or lose, it costs money. But who foots the bill? Sure the docs have malpractice insurance (as well as several other forms of insurance, depending on what variety of procedures they’re willing to perform in-office) and that cost is figured into their overhead. But when they get sued, the insurance spends money to fight the case and since they are no longer just accepting money, but now having to shell it out, they raise the rates (if not outright cancel) of the doctor’s insurance and he is forced to A) pass that increase along to his patients (which the insurance companies will reject because they above the “norm” or it will cost more out of pocket for the underinsured) or B) try to recoup some of the losses by adding items to insurance claims. Unethical? You bet, but I also say it’s inevitable.
Then we have the patients who stiff doctors on medical bills. I’m sure most of the time, it’s just because they really can’t afford to pay the bill, but there are those among us who don’t pay because they flat out just don’t want to. Should the doctor just eat this cost? Whether you answered yes or no, odds are the doctor will only put up with that so long without some form of retaliation. He could either A) refuse treatment to patients who are financially unstable (if he doesn’t enjoy being a doctor very long that is) or B) try to recoup some of the losses by adding items to insurance claims of people who do pay.
Ok, so it sounds like I’m sticking up for the unethical practices of the medical community and to a certain extent I am, but only because I’ve had ample opportunity to discuss some of these issues with a few friends who happen to be doctors.
But wait…there’s more.
So, now you have a few rather expensive claims a year (if you’re lucky enough to have adequate insurance in the first place) start rolling in for your family. What happens next? Either your insurance rate is raised or if they find they’re paying out X % of what you’re paying in…you’re dropped. And how hard do you think it will be to find medical insurance once your current carrier drops you? Pretty effing hard I bet.
The only one who really wins in any scenario is the insurance company. But they really are a necessary evil. Without them, we’d either have to do with out and try to stay healthy or be reduced to socialized medicine.
There are far too many people right now doing without and there numbers are only growing with the shitty economy and rising costs of coverage. I don’t believe any of them would suggest this option.
And we come to socialized medicine. At various points in my life, I had an opportunity to see socialized medicine in action. It sucked. Yeah, the price was right, but the service was lacking. What would normally be a thirty minute doctor’s visit could easily take up to 8 hours of waiting. And if a hospital is only operating on what ever money the government deems necessary to keep the doors open, how well do you think the staff is paid? So, by the time you actually get back to see the doctor, nine times out of ten you find a surly person, who has half their thoughts on how they are going to make that month’s rent and all the patience of a jackal with its hind leg stuck in a trap. Tread lightly, it’s late in the day and they are fed up with all the bullshit they had to put up with from the patients before who came before you.
So, what’s the solution? How do we fix this? Maybe we can get the masterminds handling our Social Security issues to look into it. That’ll make me sleep better at night…