Monday, September 14, 2009

Healthcare is Hard Pt. 1

The healthcare reform issue is so massive that one blog post cannot begin to contain it. It’s one of those issues that I’ve had a long interest in and done much informal study on. Because of its size and complexity, I really haven’t been motivated to blog about it. That is, I don’t know where to begin. So I’ve decided to just post a bit here and a bit there. And even that isn’t going to give it a just treatment. Still, I want to say something. I don’t think I’ve seen an issue so full of misrepresentation by one side of the discussion as I have this one. It’s truly stunning. And while my little blog isn’t going to interject any sanity into the situation, posting on the subject will make me feel better.

There is no good place to start, so let me begin with a few personal stories on how crazy our current system is.

After getting out of college at age 22, I had no health insurance. At first, I worked a few labor and retail jobs, none of which offered any kind of insurance. I was making no money so I couldn’t afford to buy my own either. I was lucky and didn’t need any medical services during that period.

About five months after graduation, I got my first professional job and it offered a health plan. Hurray! Except that once I started working the boss explained to me that there was a three month waiting period before I could actually use the insurance. His advice was, and I quote, “Just don’t get into a car accident for three month. Heh, heh.” OK, never mind that my job would require a medium amount of driving. I supposed that if I got into an accident on the job I could sue, get workers comp or something. No big deal, I thought, I’ve gone five months without insurance I can go three more. I’m young and healthy!

Well, a few weeks into my new job I discovered I had developed a medical condition that would need attention. Attention as in surgery. I was smart enough to not go get it diagnosed right away because then it would never be covered by the company insurance. So I lived with the condition for until my insurance kicked in. I went to the doctor right away and sure enough he scheduled me for surgery. The surgery was minor and successful. I got the bill and the total cost was between seven and eight thousand dollars, if I recall correctly. The insurance picked up most of that and I think I wound up owing just under a grand. Now keep in mind that I was making a whopping $9,600 A YEAR at that time so even the 1K I owed was going to be tough (I made payments). So all’s well that ends well. Still, I feel I got lucky.

A couple of years later at that same company, a member of our small staff had a heart attack. After paying for most of his care, the insurance company dropped us (or raised rates so high that a new plan had to be found, I can’t remember which). So the boss got us into a new plan. And guess what? Another three month waiting period! Exciting! For us, the employees, this was out of blue. This time I managed to stay healthy and did not need to use any medical services. Whew!

After leaving that job to relocate to Springfield, I was again intermittently employed and did not have any insurance for nearly nine months. Again I got lucky.

The only other time since then I’ve been without employer insurance was when I worked for a consulting company for a year and they didn’t provide insurance as a benefit. I was paid enough (and single enough) that I could afford to buy my own but I still paid a hefty price for pretty crappy insurance. Not being in a group hurts –a lot. The funny part about that was my insurance company required a physical from one of their own nurses before my insurance would be applicable. So they sent a nurse out to my apartment which was essentially the second floor of a house that had been divided into an upstairs and a downstairs apartment. When I answered the door, and invited the (female) nurse “upstairs, she kind of freaked out and wanted to do the physical on the front porch. OK. That’s what we did right there on the front porch. I had a physical. On the front porch at a semi-busy intersection for all to see. Exciting!

Those are just a few of my own experiences with “THE GREATEST HEALTHCARE SYSTEM IN THE WORLD”. I did OK throughout but I was lucky. And the things I described above are not things you will see happening anywhere else outside of the third world.

1 comment:

geek_guy said...

Yes, with small business (don't they "Make" America great). If one employee or family member thereof gets a serious condition, the whole company is screwed. With some long term illnesses (cancer), the insurance company will raise rates so high that the employer is forced to fire you. So insurance companies get between you and your job, and healthcare for your whole family.