Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Be careful for what you wish for

I typically avoid writing about politics because I believe in that old adage. You know the one that says you shouldn't talk politics or religion if you want to keep friends and avoid arguments. So this isn't going to be too political, but you can't talk about health care in this country without a small dose.

It's that time of the year when most companies are offering re-enrollment in their health insurance plans. Most change from year to year and not all companies have them, but if you are working you typically have some sort of coverage. With the president's health care reform, you are supposed to be able to get insurance if your work doesn't provide it or you are still in college. If you are living in poverty, retired or disabled, you likely have Medicaid or Medicare. So we should all have access to health care in some sort of form, right? Well not exactly.

The insurance companies or the government get to decide what is best for you -- not you, not your doctor. Oh there is choice involved, but only if you have the funds to pay out of pocket. If you don't, you don't get much choice.

A few examples:
  • If you get injured through no fault of your own, the insurance can make you pay out of pocket for an MRI. Or they can say you have to do x, y, z before we will cover an MRI. Hope you don't do any more damage while we are saving money.
  • A maintenance drug that works great to control diabetes is determined too costly. The insurance company makes you pay more for it. Want to get it at your local pharmacy instead of our mail-order pharmacy, no problem just pay five times as much.
  • Your doctor thinks you need to be screened yearly for cancer. We will pay this year, but not the next. The government says you only need to get checked for certain diseases every other year, and surely, they have your best interests at heart.
I sometimes think it was easier to get care when I didn't have any insurance. So everyone having access to health insurance might be a good thing, but it doesn't equal better care. Let's not kid ourselves. It just means following doctor's orders may cost you more. The other alternative is allowing the government or the insurance company to make health decisions for you. It's not about providing care, it's about the money.

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