Thursday, October 12, 2006

Healthcare is Sick

I think the American healthcare system needs a doctor.
I read last year that of all the developed countries in the world, only two leave the population to find their own way to provide healthcare for themselves. Those two countries are South Africa, and the United States. All others have some sort of government-provided healthcare for their taxpayers.

But here it is VERY expensive - and it keeps getting moreso. Today I have to renew my options on healthcare, dental insurance and they've gone and doubled my healthcare costs again.
Like many people employed by a company, my employer pays for some of the cost of healthcare insurance.
As it is, I pay 50% of of the premiums for myself, and 75% or the premiums for my family. Which translates to about $700 per month.
However, that doesn't actually cover the costs of healthcare completely and the parts it doesn't cover just doubled. for this year, in addition to the premiums, I must now pay $500 deductible per person, plus 20% of all the covered items, plus 100% of the uncovered items, plus up to $50 for visit co-pay BESIDES the 20% and the deductibles...... And the dental coverage has a $1500 limit, so any special procedures, even if they are covered, are not covered for more than that.

My co-worker has TWO insurances so that one will cover what the other doesn't, and now they just both refuse to pay anything because they both say let the other insurance cover it.
Last year, I paid over $8,000 in health insurance premiums and STILL had to pay over $8,000 in copays, and fees, and deductibles, etc. BESIDES that. So it cost me over $16,000 for healthcare costs last year. And we were not especially ill - that's just what it cost. We had a knee procedure and I had my gall bladder out.
I have known some people who have lost their entire lifetime-savings to pay for medical expenses from a single year of being sick, (in some cases millions of dollars), and I read some months ago that literally more than half the bankruptcies in this country (over 2 million per year) are because of people being unable to afford medical costs beyond what their insurance would cover.

I have also read that most people now going through medical school are NOT going through to become doctors, but are then following up with a second degree in Law so they can become medical lawyers. They say there is more money in medical litigation than there is in actually practicing medicine.

Yeah. I think we're broken on this healthcare system thing.

Anybody else as frustrated as I am on healthcare?
Anybody have a better way to do this?

I'll tell you one thing that could help: Change the law so that lawyers are NOT allowed to be paid as a percentage of the lawsuit awards, and instead are paid by the hour ONLY.
Suddenly I think a whole lot of spurious lawsuits would disappear, and the large amounts of claims and settlements would collapse down to just compensation for loss, and that would reduce the overall risk of practicing medicine, and therefore the insurance claims, and therefore the premiums for malpractice insurance, and therefore reduce the fees doctors have to charge and the unnecessary tests and unnecessary procedures, and therefore the costs of health care.
To me, it's a long cause-and-effect chain that starts with lawyers bumping up ridiculous lawsuits to ridiculous levels so they can bring in very high revenue to the law firms. And it's not just the lawyer's fault. Why is it that in this country, people have come to treat a lawsuit like it's a winning lottery ticket? It's not about compensation for loss anymore - now, every lawsuit is like a chance to get enough money to retire on.
I can just imagine some person running out into traffic hoping somebody runs them down. They might be set for life!.... if they live through it, that is.

3 Years ago, a family in Houston found they had some black mold in their house and their lawyers built up a case that awarded 30 million dollars in the lawsuit against insurance companies. And there isn't even any conclusive proof that the mold is medically harmful. It's been with us since the beginning of time. But because of that settlement, all but 5 home insurance companies left the state of Texas because it was too risky, and then the remaining 5 shot their premiums through the roof for everybody. My own insurance on the house I had then went from $1,800/year to over $7,600/year for the same coverage.

Anybody have a better way?
Anybody have some experiences or advice to relay?


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