Thursday, March 27, 2008

Health care in America: Big benefits, but not for us

I work for a small company that does not have the buying power of large firms when it comes to health insurance. And since Mark is self-employed, we must get our health insurance through my company.

To insure our little family of four, each month we pay a whooping $1,163.02 to Oxford Health Care. I understand from talking to other families in our boat that this is about average.

Each year in December, I brace myself for the inevitable news that health insurance costs are rising again. I hope against hope that they will not rise significantly, but each year without fail they go up. I have accepted that.

What I find unacceptable is the additional “out-of-pocket” (isn’t it all out-of-pocket?) we must to pay to receive benefits. For example, we must fork over a $40 co-pay each and every time we walk into a doctor’s office. In the last two months alone, we’ve paid out an additional $160 because every member of the family has had to go to the doctor for one thing or another.

Another example: prescriptions. Look at this picture:

That teeny tiny vial of medicine cost us $80 on Tuesday. Oxford was gracious enough to pick up $20 of its cost. Wow, Oxford. Thanks a lot. That’s really . . . something.

And what, you may ask, is that prescription for? Some strange or rare affliction? Is it an experimental new drug? Is it a vanity prescription like wrinkle cream?

Oh no. That itty bitty 3 milliliter bottle holds eye drops to treat my daughter’s pink eye.

Pink eye. An extremely common childhood infection.

Eighty. Dollars.

Honestly, I’m not sure how some families do it. I don’t know what the answer is, but something’s got to change. How much blood are we all expected to give to a broken system?

How much money do these greedy insurance companies need to collect? And let’s not even get into the topic of legitimate claims that are habitually denied, forcing you to fight tooth and nail with the bureaucracy to get them paid. That’s a whole ‘nother kettle of fish and another post for another time.

People are in an uproar about oil company profits; what about the record profits recently being reported by health care companies?

They are making money hand over fist and at whose expense? Ours, my friends. All of ours.

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Blogger Aunt Kath said...

You're right. I hear the stories from Neal who has been working in hospital labs since 1980. I know people who have had pain and knew something was very wrong with them yet only after driving the doctor crazy did they get anything done. Finally when something was done they found it was some type of cancer. I don't hear much from the presidential candidates talking about health care anymore. Every day we're being robbed and the insurance companies who own the doctors are getting richer.

8:48 AM  
Blogger Amanda said...

It is nothing short of criminal. I work for a chamber of commerce and a hospital. I am married to a small business owner. Each of these different perspectives, whether through the administration of health insurance to chamber members, the fight to get payment for hospital services from insurers or the entrpreneur needing to provide employees with coverage, it's maddening. The insurers make up the rules as they go. And the cost of medications? That it can vary from one country to another? That generics aren't covered under certain policies? Oh, honey, I hear this one! I count my blessings every day that we have great coverage.

9:44 AM  
Blogger Mayberry said...

Here I have been annoyed at a $25 copay. The whole thing is insane.

3:36 PM  
Blogger Minnesota Matron said...

Oh honey. We were paying $680 a month with a $6800 annual deductible, which is why I got a full time job. Now e pay $122 to $488 a month (depending on the percentage time I teach). And I thought our cost was criminal. Jeez.

9:42 AM  
Blogger ryssee said...

Every time I hear about stuff like this my blood boils. NHS. Seriously. Equalize it.

9:09 PM  
Blogger rudecactus said...

I'm not telling you anything you don't know...but the system is broken. Really and truly broken.

9:52 PM  
Blogger Beth said...

Oh my gosh!! Excellent post!! I have been living in the "dream world" of affordable healthcare for the past few years (Korea was universal, and here we have student), so I am seriously not looking forward to the real world that is family health insurance next year. It is absolutely ridiculous!!!!! I don't even have enough exclamation points, italics or WORDS for the kookiness that is our nations' healthcare. But, really, great post.


2:25 PM  
Blogger Woman with a Hatchet said...

Preach it, Kimberly. Preach it!

I'm still fighting two insurance companies over the bills related to the birth of my twins. Argh!

9:30 PM  
Blogger Elaine A. said...

This topic makes me so mad too. It's so frustating. I take it this is an issue for you in the coming election? Just curious...

8:53 AM  
Blogger Kimberly said...

Elaine - yeah, I'd say that it's an important issue to me. Unfortunately, I'm not sure any of the top candidates have what seems like a workable solution. The whole problem is so huge - the entire system so screwed up - I have a hard time believing any one president/administration can sort it all out at this point.

9:08 PM  

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