People have limited resources. With those limited resources, most people are busy supporting a lifestyle they desire, or just trying to support any lifestyle….just working to survive.
So people take their limited resources, and then every month budget in what they can afford for their health insurance premiums. For most people, they can’t save much beyond that.
What most people don’t realize, is how *little* their health insurance actually covers. And they don’t find out until they become sick…very sick.
It’s all the little print in their information packet about their health insurance that they don’t read…”copayments”, “deductibles”, “co-insurance”.
Suddenly, when you develop a chronic illness or severe life threatening illness, you’re not just paying $100/$200/$500 a month in a health insurance premium (or much more than that),
you’re suddenly being expected to pay hundreds dollars a month in copays and deductibles, in order to get access to the healthcare that you thought you would have access to when you got sick. Money people could be spending on a mortgage, food, entertainment–money that could have gone back into the U.S. economy.
The cost of health insurance premiums is just the beginning of the expense on the individual sick person, and that is *not* money going to the doctors or the hospital–that is money that is going to the health insurance companies. Companies that make a higher profit every time they say no to a patient.
I once went to see a Hematologist about investigating a possible bone marrow disorder (we found nothing). But before I could even see the doctor, a billing woman came into my patient room. This surprised me a little, and I asked her who she was.
She explained to me she was from the billing office, and that,
“it’s office policy that we meet with the patient before you see the doctor, because most people don’t realize how little their insurance covers until they actually get something as severe as cancer”,
I looked at her dumbfounded. Here I was, just trying to get some answers to some questions about possible rare bone marrow disorders, and my heart instantly went out to all those patients who had just found out from the primary care physicians that they had cancer. And then they think they’re going to be meeting with an oncologist about their cancer diagnosis, only to find out they’re now getting hit with a **huge** financial bill that they probably didn’t anticipate.
She fumbles through the fine print on my insurance policy.
“You actually have pretty good insurance”,
She seemed pleased with what she was reading in my policy. She closes her folder, and looks at me plainly,
“but most people have terrible insurance. $20,000-$30,000 a year or more out of their own pockets. Our office policy is to ask for a check upfront for these costs from our cancer patients. But you’re only here for a visit.”
And with that, she quietly left the room. Since she realized I wasn’t going to be requesting thousands of dollars worth of medical care, the fine print on my insurance wasn’t so important. It was comforting to know my insurance was “good” (if $10/k a year in addition to premiums can be considered “good”), but I found the entire experience alarming.
Of course, it’s *not* that this doctor office is evil–they need to pay their secretaries, student loans, rent, not to mention they have to pay for the medications they will be giving–
But somehow a doctor’s office having a big meeting about finances before the doctor will even see you, feels evil though..doesn’t it.
Why does it feel evil?
Because somewhere intuitively we all believe everyone should have access to the healthcare they need when they it. Like a baby crying, when someone is suffering…we should jump in.
And that is the essence of the problem with the U.S. healthcare system.
Most people can not afford the onslaught of co-pays, deductibles, and co-insurance payments, even with their “good” insurance–and if they don’t have the means to just charge a lot of credit card bills,
they just simply die from lack of care.
People love to talk about “the wait” in Canada, as if it is some kind of crime,
and what I LOVE to point out to people,
is that yes, you do wait in Canada. You do.
But you’re going to get what you need. You will get it.
And physicians get paid for every patient they see. And reimbursed on a timely schedule. And they don’t have to spend 5-45 minutes trying to get an approval every time they want to order an MRI for their patients.
There are many people in the U.S. who don’t get access to what they need, or spend thousands of dollars in order to get what they need. Obamacare doesn’t change that, because it still keeps the power in the hands of the private insurance companies.
And most people don’t realize this in the U.S…
until it is too late.