Should Not Healthcare Reform Include Costs?


The co-owner of Support For Home In-Home Care submitted this.  I hope it strikes a chord.  Bert

My son, who is still in college, will be turning 24 this year and our family policy was up for renewal in April.  That was before President Obama’s health care reform went through, which now allows family plans to cover their children up to the age of 26.  We went ahead and put him on an individual high deductible plan, as he has been a very healthy person and we wanted to keep the premiums low. 

Unfortunately he had a medical emergency that led us to call the paramedics, and he rode in an ambulance to the hospital.  I haven’t seen the ambulance bill yet, but anyone on a high deductible plan will know that it will not be a small amount.  This is to be followed by a series of tests that are now being conducted on him, including an MRI. 

I was in the radiology department yesterday with him to check in, and we were told it would cost $1,120.  We flinched a little and went ahead and put it on my credit card.  While still in the waiting room, a gentleman in his mid- to late 50s came in to check in and was told “That will be $1,120.”  He said “What? I don’t have $1,120 to pay for it. Why is it not only a $30 co-pay?”  The clerk explained to him that he is on a deductible plan and the price will drop after he hits his maximum deductible amount.  He then asked the clerk to cancel the appointment.  The clerk asked him if she could put him in touch with someone to discuss and he said no and left.  What good was talking about $1,120 that he did not have?

This unfortunate gentleman could have a serious medical condition that now may go undiscovered.  An aneurysm or tumor or other potential issue that led his doctor to schedule the MRI in the first place may not be found before something potentially fatal happens.

This immediately triggered my thoughts on the health care reform that was just passed, which does not address the issues around cost that I had just witnessed.  Does this gentleman have health insurance?  Yes, but he does not have the money to cover the out of pocket medical expenses.  Health care reform will help many more people obtain insurance.  But what it does not address is the issue of out of pocket costs, even with an HMO policy. 

There are many, many factors that go into the high cost of healthcare.  But, what happened to the proposal to place a cap on medical malpractice?  A cap on medical malpractice will lower doctors’ liability insurance costs, which in effect will lower the doctors’ or radiologists’ costs and how much the patients will need to pay. 

What happened to allowing Americans buy prescription drugs from Canada and other countries where the prices are much lower?  Americans have been impacted by President Obama’s inability to implement his promise that he would reform this during his election campaign. 

Health care reform does not address actual costs of health care for Americans.  Health care reform is just passing around who pays for the costs.  It’s making small businesses, corporations and middle and higher income tax payers pay for them — but the gentleman who could not afford an MRI still will not be able to pay for it.  Small business and corporations may cut jobs and reduce pay to their workers in order to pay for the health care costs. 

The pharmaceutical companies apparently are going to get richer.  The few who sue at every opportunity may get richer.  Is the rest of the country really going to benefit, if we do not get healthcare costs under control?  What do you think about these issues?

Best wishes, Siew Pheng Tung

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