Tuesday, July 31, 2007

It's supposed to be health CARE isn't it?

I've been thinking a lot about healthcare in this country the last week, I talked in a post below about Michael Moore's movie and when I wrote it I didn't think too much about how the problems with health care have affected me directly. In the last week I've realized how much they have affected me and people close to me. Because of the way my insurance plans works (you can see some of the details here) there's a "gap" that I have to cover. Well, apparently during my last doctor's visit I hit that gap. I received a bill in the mail for $642 the other day. I was expecting it to happen at some point and we are, after all, well over halfway through the year. But, when such a big bill arrives it's still a little shocking. For some people in Seattle that's more than a month's rent. I'm lucky in that I'll be able to pay the bill but what about people who can't. For a lot of people that would be over one quarter of their take home pay in a month. How are they supposed to be able to pay that? In addition, that's not the only large health care bill I'm going to receive this year. There's still more of that "gap" that I have to cover and next time I see the doc I'll be getting more bills. Again, I'm one of the lucky ones in that I can currently pay these bills, but I know it's not that easy for a lot of people.

Next on the list is my partner Jayson. He's been dealing some mood issues lately and would like to talk to someone about them. His insurance covers counseling costs so he should be able to get right in and talk to someone. The problem is, his insurance will cover counseling costs but they don't seem to cover any specific counselors. So, while the treatment is paid for, anyone who could administer that treatment is not. As the doctor is the entire treatment, if the doctor isn't covered then the treatment is in effect not covered. How can that seem the least bit logical to Blue Cross of Washington? Jayson went to a doctor who was supposedly covered under his plan but after 5 visits we began getting very expensive bills from him since the insurance decided that they weren't going to pay. Jayson followed the insurance company's rules, did his homework, and found someone who Blue Cross said they would cover. After all was said and done they changed the rules since it didn't fit their profit structure.

And finally a friend of mine needs meds that he is supposed to take daily. Even with insurance he's had to go several weeks (or maybe even longer) without them because he can't afford the out of pocket costs. His insurance company, which if it's like mine makes a big deal about how they keep people healthy, couldn't care less if he can afford the meds or not. If he can't pay the co-pay, he doesn't get the meds. So, if insurance doesn't A) keep you healthy or B) cover your expenses when you do need treatment, what's the purpose of it? If the purpose is only so that the insurance companies can rake in the monthly premiums to keep the shareholders happy, I have better plans for that money. I understand that insurance companies are in business to make money, but that in itself is a huge part of the problem. Paying money out for people's meds or doctor visits cuts into their profit so they don't want to do it. I wouldn't even have such an issue with it if the insurance companies weren't trying to get us to believe through their ads and literature that our well-being is at the forefront of their existence.

What I'm not sure about is why the Dems running for office in 2008 are not making this the number one issue of the platform. There are currently 45 million or so people in this country without health insurance. That's 12 million more people than the total population of Canada. The uninsured numbers don't even take into account people like my partner or my friend, or for that matter myself, who have to make the choice between the care they need that includes exorbitant bills that their insurance company won't pay and other things like, say, eating. If the Dems were to make universal health care an issue they could easily guarantee themselves 45 million votes nationwide, plus many more I'm sure.

But hey, on a bright note it's payday for me today. Let's all go get our prescriptions filled while we can!

No comments: