Friday, September 5, 2008

Barack vs McCain - Health Care

With the Democratic and Republican "Rah Rah" conventions over, it is time for Americans to do the hard work of really looking at the issues to decide the next president. It would be so refreshing if we actually voted based on policy and effectiveness...rather than hero status, race, sex, TV ads or sound bites.

I don't understand voters who zero in on a single issue and vote because of the candidate's stand on that issue. Whether it is gay marriage, guns, the war in Iraq, creationism, abortion, tax cuts, or Health Care, there are too many important factors that affect us all to choose because of one belief.

But speaking of Health Care...I found a bipartisan website that can help us all do our homework on a very complicated subject. Check out HealthDecision '08 to see Obama and McCain's health proposal summary side by side with both the advantages and the challenges.

It is a complicated subject and simplistic measures are a LIE. I see flaws with both proposals but will continue to make sense of them and report in EverythingHealth. Get, learn, vote.


Rich said...

I'm one of the well sought after voters: "Independant" So I will just close my eys and vote where my finger lands.

Anonymous said...

This is what I was looking for, some good, clear cut info. It would be nice to find it on all issues,even though I'm pretty sure who I'm voting for, I stil want to research more. I was hoping you would write about it, thanks.

Anonymous said...

Personally, I don't think we will see any reform in healthcare until we get away from the concept of health insurance for routine care, and instead move to a "high deductible" philosophy.

It's just really insane the way things are running now. The biggest problem as I see it is that consumers have no clue what their health care costs until AFTER services are rendered. I recently had some lab tests done on my two daughters, which I wanted to find out in advance what the cost would be because of budget issues and the fact that the tests were "preventative" in nature and not urgent--I had been told that I would have to pay for the testing out of pocket since I had not yet met the deductible (or even touched the deductible) for either of them.

So anyway, it took me well over 4 hours of telephone calls to the insurance company, the lab, and the pediatrician's office (and around and around again to all of them) before I was able to find out what I would have to pay.

Insane, insane, insane. As I told one customer service rep that I spoke to: "essentially what you are asking me to do would be like me walking into a grocery store that has no posted prices, filling up my shopping cart, scanning everything at check-out and STILL not being told the prices, just having a clerk cheerfully tell me 'we'll send you a bill in a month.'"

I finally found that while the lab would bill $273 for the test, the insurance company had negotiated a price of $55, which would be fully covered by my insurance, not part of my copay/deductible. Assuming of course that conditions don't change before I get the test done...not like the insurance company would actually COMMIT to a price that I would have to pay. first of all, the $273 price is obviously inflated if the lab can afford to negotiate down to $55.

Secondly...I can afford to pay $55 out of pocket, I really don't need an insurance company to pay it for me. In fact, I was willing to pay $100 out of pocket to a different lab if I found out I was going to have to pay more than that to run it through my insurance.

The whole issue of how long it took me to find out if my insurance would even "allow" me to have this test done and have it count toward even my deductible was frustrating enough. Especially considering that this year my premiums to my insurance company will total nearly $3800 for my family (that doesn't include what my employer is paying!), and yet my insurance company will be paying out less than $2000 to pay for all of the health care that my family will use this year. In fact, in the last 10 years my family has only once utilized more than $2000 in medical care in a year 3 times--and it hit $3000 once, the years I gave birth to our daughters those years came in at about $12,000 billed...I have no idea what the insurance company negotiated the cost of the births--each less than $10K billed--down to.

In the end...if my employers over the years are to be believed about how much they are paying for my family's health insurance, somewhere around $100,000 has been paid to "insure" my family in the past 10 years, but barely $40,000 has been paid out. Hmmmm...doesn't make insurance sound like all that great of a deal!

Yes, I do think that insurance for high cost-catastrophic type care is a good thing (which is why I continue to buy into my employer offered plan--unfortunately this employer does not offer a "high deductible" option--our family had that for a brief window of 2 years, and loved it). That would be why I have insurance on my house and on my vehicles.

But over all, I think that A) telling consumers up front what various services will cost, and B) getting the insurance red tape (which of course adds a layer of cost to health care) out of low cost-routine care would help to keep the cost of health care under control.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous, I think you wrote a good post you are right about us not having a clue about our costs until AFTER services are rendered. It is obscene.

I will vote for a person who will come up with a plan where the insurance companies pay more and they come up with flat rates for ROUTINE PREVENTATIVE procedures. (TB I know this will never happen :), but it's worth a shot) I went into my GYN the other week, had a routine procedure and got the bill today. Some ridiculously high amount and my coverage only pays a fifth of the amount. The other thing that irks me is that they want payment in full! My doctor won't do payment plans.... The doctor's office called back saying I need to come in for a follow up in October....guess what I can't (and won't) because I can't afford to!

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