Greed Vs. Need

There is nothing like good old American Greed. I guess that’s why all those people who live elsewhere and curse us still want to come join us.

The biggest perpetrator of greed in this country is the Federal Government. They want to levy additional taxes when people are making less money and/or getting less value for their hard-earned dollars. They tell you- don’t worry, we want to soak only from the very rich. The only problem with that is the very rich are the only ones who can afford to spend what it takes to help this trickle-down economy. So, if you take, let’s say, one thousand dollars more in taxes per very rich person, that’s one thousand less they would spend in going to restaurants, movies, plays, ball games- whatever. There are a lot of people who work peripheral service jobs in those industries who will end up getting less hours at work and less tips.

There are those who will say that I’m being too negative-that one thousand smackers in cold cash is not going to hurt the well-off and that they will continue to spend their pocket change on frivolous matters without thinking twice. There are also those who say, “so what!”- take it from the rich and give to the poor by funding the government agencies that are being pinched. That last part makes sense if you can trust the government agents to play fair with the tax money they collect.

Ma is on medicare and anxiously awaits the first few days of each month when she uses her bank’s automated menu system to confirm her checkbook balance. She hears about changing Medicare and is very concerned that she will end up paying higher insurance premiums. I keep telling her that both political parties in America agree not to screw anyone over a certain age, which I think I am included. Yes, that means than anyone under fifty can expect to see a change in how the Federal Government will pay for their medical needs when they retire.
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Why I Hate Hospital Corporations

Why I Hate Hospitals

I have a modest proposal to reshape the health insurance system. It takes away some of the burden from the insurance companies and places it on the individual but also gives the policyholder a saving’s edge. It is based on the idea that the real culprit in all of this are hospitals.

First, here is the plan and then I’ll go into why I believe this is better than the current modus operandi:

Category Age Category Insurance Premium Deductible How it works
Doctor Visits, Simple Tests, Emergency Room visits 35-44

45-54

55-64

1000,00 Dollars

1500.00

2000.00

(Self-insurance in a Health Savings Account

zero Individual uses up to the value of his or her premium for all outpatient visits by paying out of the HSA approved checking account. Once the HSA is exhausted, the Major Medical policy kicks in. The individual is then obligated to spend up to deductible until it is used up and then only pays 20% up to one million for the year.

If during the course of the year, the person does not use any or all of the HSA money, he or she may apply it to the next year, thereby saving them the need to again put aside extra money each year. They are rewarded for being fortunate enough to stay healthy.

Insurance companies lose out but also gain with not having to deal with the paperwork on the majority of medical visits.

Major Medical- Surgery, Expensive Tests, Procedures 35-49

50-64

2000.00 (paid to an Insurance Company)

3000,00

1000.00

1500.00

Individual is obligated to pay up to the major medical deductible and 20% afterward for all bills up to one million dollar cap for the year. At cap, insurance company pays 100%.

Hospital organizations must also be required to drastically lower billing amounts. It is outrageous and way out of line. They do a lot of unneeded extra testing and then charge an outrageous amount for little time spent taking the tests.

Not too long ago my doctor insisted that I take a CAT scan. Correction- two cat scans, because the area of the body being scanned required two passes. I spent a total of twenty minutes going through the doughnut . The insurance company was billed over six thousand dollars for these twenty minutes of service.

The dye that they made me drink to prep for the test cost five hundred dollars! The insurance company thought that this was fair. Each scan was billed at $2800. The insurance company responded to the bill with, “not so fast! We have a network (translated, a wink and a nod) agreement where you accept our negotiated rate. This brought the price down to $1400 each. Big deal! After using up my $1000 deductible for the year, I was still stuck with paying over one thousand four hundred dollars for an outpatient visit that took less than a half hour.

I called the hospital and asked to get the price reduced. They said that at best they could do was to lower it by ten percent or ask to fill out a financial aid form. I wasn’t about to be insulted by filling out such a form, so I took the discount but then asked for the right to pay it off in three installments. The customer service agent told me that she would not allow it- either pay the full amount in twelve monthly installments, or take the discount. I told her that the hospital already received a more than thousand dollar check from the insurance company on my behalf. It was not as if they were relying only on my payment to make a profit on the deal. I asked to speak to a supervisor. She transferred me into the voice mail for a higher echelon person. He returned my call on the next business day and was equally hesitant to offer compromise. He finally told me he was doing me a great personal favor to allow me to pay the bill off in three installments while also taking the ten percent discount.

There should be only one price for a procedure regardless if a person has insurance or not or whether they are in the insurance network. Period. And the price should be regulated by an impartial group that is not beholden to the hospitals.

I recognize that some of the dollar figures listed above may need to be adjusted for practicality. Paramount, though, is that we need to put intelligence and incentive back into health care decision-making for all parties involved- the patient, doctors, insurance companies and hospitals. Otherwise, we mind as well close down the hospitals and let the healthiest survive to the next generation. It will cut down on the price of gas as there will be less people who own cars.

Warning: Hospital Bills Can Be Hazardous To Your Health

Not too long ago I was eating a heavy supper at 5:00pm. Being a quick eater, I was sitting in the living room trying to stay awake while reading a book at 5:45pm. As usual, I started to doze off and could not fight it but kept to as much of a sitting position as possible on the sectional sofa. An hour later around 7:00pm I awoke feeling a heavy pain in my stomach and chest area. I attributed it to not allowing the food to digest properly.

I endured the pain laying in bed and reading, eventually falling asleep for the night. The next morning I felt much better. However, that evening the pain came back with a vengeance and lingered over the next couple of days. I informed my doctor who recommended that I come in for an examination. His probing hands confirmed that there must be something wrong but it was not what he initially thought as the pain was centered elsewhere. He therefore recommended a cat scan- two, in fact. I found out later that it was common to do the two as they are very much linked.
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