Item: I am now paying $27,000 per year for Blue Shield catastrophic care health insurance for myself and my wife. (The first $7,200 comes out of pocket. That’s our pocket.)
Item: Recently I went to my doctor to see about some hip pain. He examined me for about ten minutes. The bill was $199. When I called Sutter Health to ask how that could be, the woman in customer service seemed offended that I wanted an explanation. She said it could be more, and that the cost of a doctor’s visit varied, depending. When I asked depending on what, she said it was a government formula and she couldn’t tell me. When I asked whether there was any way to know in advance how much a doctor’s visit would cost, she said no. Question: is there any other service that cannot give you an estimate of cost in advance?
Item: according to my doctor, his office now has two employees working on insurance for every doctor or physician’s assistant. That’s not counting the insurance company employees.
The conclusion I draw is that our medical care system is broken. It’s broken even for people like me who can get insurance, let alone for the ever-increasing millions who can’t, at any price.
Obamacare is, generally, an attempt to save the system. It preserves the basic elements of individual or company health insurance, paying to independent providers. Within that framework it tries to make sure everybody can get insurance–especially those who have an ailment or a history that currently makes them uninsurable. It makes some preliminary attempts to rein in costs.
Whether it can work, I have my doubts. I’m inclined to hope it gets a chance, because right now it is the only game in town. Has anyone else offered even the shadow of a plan that would enable people who need it to get insurance? I don’t think so. If Obamacare is thrown out, or fails, we’re left with the current system, which gets more impossible every minute.
The only other option is single payer, like every other industrialized nation has. Politically, we’re not ready to go there. Yet.
Folks, we are in a mess.