a reply to: vonclod
In a way we have the same problem here. I have yet to be denied medical care, whether insured or not, but if uninsured, that care can be financially
Strangely enough, the medical system seems to be at least partially compassionate to the situation. A few years back, I had something clog up my ear
canal, completely, to the point I couldn't hear anything out of that ear. I stopped by a clinic here and told them the problem. I asked up front what
it would cost. They gave me a price well over $100, to which I just half-chuckled and said "No, thanks. Can't afford it." As I started to walk away,
they asked if I had insurance and I replied no. They asked me to wait and a few minutes later I was told they could do it for $50. I got my ear fixed
My wife's heart surgery set me back $140,000. Mine, for some reason, was dropped to $5000. Very similar operations. The only difference I can see was
I kept saying I couldn't afford it, and I don't think she did.
Doctors are caught between several rocks and hard places. On one hand, they deserve to be paid well, very well, for the years of training, the
knowledge, and the skills they have. On the other hand, few can actually afford to pay them in today's economy. On one hand, most doctors went into
medicine to help people. On the other hand, in order to do so, their expenses are astronomical, making their services out of the reach of most
Malpractice insurance for example: no doctor in his right mind would dare consider going without it. He doesn't have to make a mistake; just having a
patient with a serious illness and a bad attitude is all it takes to be facing a lawyer with $$$ in his eyes. In a courtroom, jurors are more than
happy to hand out millions of dollars in awards, just because they feel sorry for the patient; I have sat on those juries and heard the arguments: "I
don't care who's at fault; that poor lady needs help! He's got insurance." So the premiums go up to pay the awards, the doctors have to charge more to
cover them, and jurists, who are average people, have even less sympathy towards the doctors and award more.
Medical technology has advanced tremendously... but the market is small. Medical equipment is tremendously expensive to start with due to the market,
but add into that the cost of components for medical equipment. There are generally three grades of electronic components: standard, military
(physically more rugged, with greater operating temperature ranges) and medical (100% pre-tested and manufactured at slower rates to ensure as little
failure as possible). The most expensive is medical. A simple quad op-amp chip that I buy for $0.25 can cost $5.00 in medical grade.
But the biggest cost is health insurance. Insurance companies spend minor fortunes on lawyers whose sole job is to make sure they can legally pay as
little as humanly possible. They lobby doctors to accept their insurance, threatening a loss of business if the doctors don't accept it, and they use
expensive negotiators to do that. They also expect discounts, deep, deep discounts, on procedures, and usually take their sweet time transferring
funds. A typical doctor's office has to hire additional help just to handle the paperwork required to get paid, help that is itself getting more
expensive as the forms and company rules get more complicated. That's one of the big reasons many doctors share office space; they are also sharing
office help dealing with insurance.
In an attempt to stay profitable, many doctors and especially hospitals have begun to overcharge, both in an attempt to get more out of uninsured
patients, and to try to get insurance companies to raise their pay. They also have to overcome sometimes sub-standard pay rates enforced on them by
Medicare/Medicaid, even lower rates than private insurance companies allow. But this just means less people can afford the higher premiums and more
can't pay at all.
So what do we, in our infinite stoopidity, do? We pass a law that makes it illegal to not buy insurance that is unaffordable, and threaten those who
don't have enough money with financial fines! We make it more complex to get insurance. We try to force employers to pay for insurance, forcing them
to cut back on hiring people and on hours, making it even more impossible for people to buy what we demand they buy. We raise the cost of living at a
time when people are already having trouble keeping body and soul together.
We pass Obamacare.
And now, when the inevitable happens, when insurance premiums skyrocket, when insurance companies leave the health insurance market, when doctors are
squeezed even harder because insurance companies are negotiating even lower payments due to their increased power... we scream in agony when anyone
mentions fixing the problem they made. We argue and fight over which freakin' letter the news puts next to a politician's name.
If it wasn't for the fact that so many innocent would suffer, I would be supporting outlawing insurance completely, just to let some people either
wake up to what's going on or suffer until they do.