The Hidden Cost of High Prices

It’s really difficult for me to sit here in Africa and try to understand what is going on over there back home with regard to the healthcare debate. I understand that Democrats and Republicans agree that something needs to be done to reform healthcare because as it stands it leaves millions of people uninsured and the costs for those who are insured can be ghastly. As it goes right now it is not a question of whether or not the system will fail, but of when. There are people like our President who are doing everything they can to determine what the people want but a lot of the problem is the people don’t really understand the system let alone how to fix it. Health insurance companies are doing everything they can to maintain the status quo. Meanwhile Democratic senators have lost the majority (ironically because of Sen. Ted Kennedy’s death) and Republicans have used this opportunity to stall the process and will use this as a means to push the country viciously towards the right come mid-term elections in November.

I look at this problem with healthcare and it’s easy to see why things are the way they are. Health insurance is like this black box. Those who are lucky enough to work for a company that offer healthcare are told how much they need to pay each month. They can either take it, leave it, or find a job somewhere else. Most of the time the premium hurts enough to be noticeable but enough to put a real dent in your checking account each month especially when compared to how much money people make each month. But here’s the rub. The real money isn’t made from the premiums but every time someone uses the insurance. If I hurt my arm playing softball I’m not going to shop around and determine which doctor is the cheapest and who will offer the cheapest services (which isn’t even possible). I’m going to go to my doctor who’s part of my network, get an X-ray with my doctor, and use my prescription card from my health insurance company to pay for meds or get surgery if I have to from someone recommended by my doctor and someone covered by my insurance. From the moment you get that job you’re some health insurance company’s bitch. That means these guys (be it the doctors, health insurance companies, drug companies, medical technology companies) will do everything to squeeze the money out of you by any means necessary. And the thing is most people will pay whatever they have to because nothing is more important than a person’s health. We know so little about how to treat ourselves we leave it up to the experts but in the process we get taken for a ride. Much of this stems from the fact that we have no idea how much procedures SHOULD cost. How much does it cost to get an X-ray? What about an MRI? How about a blood test? There are times when it is an absolute emergency and we should let the doctors do what they have to do but some times we as patients should be able to “shop around.” If you really want to see healthcare reform get more people covered for basic services and then make prices more transparent while giving patients more options. It’s not enough to let people decide what insurance provider they want but they should also be able to decide who they want to do which procedure. Maybe we should treat people like we treat cars. Let people go to their favorite mechanic/doctor and let them take a look under the hood/at the body to determine what’s wrong and then give a quote/diagnosis before proceeding with the repair/treatment. Health insurance is really where you have to look for the hidden cost of high prices……


2 thoughts on “The Hidden Cost of High Prices

  1. I would appreciate more visual materials, to make your blog more attractive, but your writing style really compensates it. But there is always place for improvement

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