So right now, the focus of the news is on universal health care. Some will say that this is a good thing because everybody will be covered for medical care where they are not today. This is a great ideal, but the reality is that the quality of health care will suffer for those covered, and millions of people will not be covered at all.
Here’s how the system works today:
My wife works for a company that subsidizes health care for employees. When the employee is married or has dependents (kids), the employee is charged a small amount of money to cover their family. The company, with lots of employees, makes a deal with an insurance carrier to provide a discount to the company for health coverage. The idea behind this is that most employees will not use the insurance to the point where money is lost by the insurance company. This is similar to auto insurance. In this case, the insurance company is betting you will stay healthy, and you are betting that you will get sick.
Last week, I got sick. I went to work, finished my day, and suddenly became sick hours later. I had an idea of what was wrong, and I knew it wasn’t the biggest deal in the world (I didn’t think I would die in the next few hours), so I didn’t call 9-1-1 or go to the Emergency Room. Our carrier has what is called Urgent Care, which is less urgent than an emergency, but more urgent than waiting the week or so before you see a doctor. That is the road I took.
The way our insurance works, in addition to the small amount taken out of my wife’s check every pay period to pay for coverage, we pay a whopping $10.00 whenever we use the services. This is called a co-pay. In theory, if I saw a doctor for acne, one for a physical, and a third for my arm that hurts after going to the gym, I would pay $30.00 to see all of them. Not a bad deal.
Now here is the difference between health care today and the proposed “universal” health care being discussed in Congress:
I waited less than ten minutes (on a Friday, in the evening, when it seems that EVERYBODY is off work) to be seen. The doctor felt that my case was severe enough to administer medication through I-V (inter-venous fluid) and that I needed to go to the Emergency Room immediately. An ambulance was called, and I was taken to the ER where I was seen by another doctor. I was seen and treated by the ER staff immediately. I was seen by a doctor late that evening and admitted to the hospital. Over the weekend, (I got out of the hospital on Sunday) I was given more I-V medicine, meals (such that they were! I’ll agree that hospital food sucks.), and I was stabilized. On Sunday, I as prescribed some medicine and sent on my merry way. On the way out, I stopped at the pharmacy, paid another $10.00, and picked up my approximately $150.00 worth of medicine.
So let’s take stock.
- Friday afternoon, I get sick.
- Early Friday evening, I go to Urgent care
- Friday evening, I am sent by ambulance to Emergency Care
- Late Friday night, I am checked in to hospital.
- Sunday, I am released on my own recognizance and given a prescription.
Total cost: $20.00
Now compare this to “universal” health care, and I still wouldn’t have been seen by a doctor. I would have gotten progressively worse, and may not have been able to tell my tale. Some where in California, there would be a grave stone with the Finance For Youth logo on it because my symptoms didn’t sound like they were serious. Without having a doctor look at me and do several tests, I would have stayed home and taken a lot of aspirin until I was gone.
I’ve been asked why my postings have been taking an increasingly political bend when my target audience might not be able to actually do anything about the problems. Here’s the answer to that question. You do have a lot of power, but only if you understand the situations presented to you. Many of my readers are over 18 (voting age) or will be by the time of the next elections. You can contact your local Congress persons and let your voice be heard. If those in power refuse to listen to you, you have the power to replace them the next time around. Most importantly, you have the power to make sure none of this ever happens again.