12:09 am in Uncategorized by Quasit
For various reasons I am not going to use names in this post.
Several years ago we (my family and I) were forced to change our health insurance from a classic HMO plan to a “high-deductible” one. That plan is effectively incomprehensible; ever since we were switched to that plan, we’ve been in collection or sued several times every year. As has everyone else – literally – that I have spoken to, who is on one of these plans. All of them. Every single person I’ve spoken to who is on a high-deductible plan has faced multiple medical collections and/or lawsuits. I am not kidding.
The cost has been staggering.
Now, the supposed principle behind high-deductible plans is to force medical consumers (i.e. everyone) to be “wiser”. To make better choices. Not to get wasteful and expensive MRIs, for example, when an x-ray will do just as well.
There’s just one problem with that noble concept: it’s bullshit. Who among us is qualified to know whether an MRI is more or less suitable than an x-ray for any particular case? A doctor, that’s who. And certainly not the vast majority of patients! Most patients couldn’t tell you the difference between an MRI and an x-ray if you pointed a gun at their heads.
But of course, the real purpose of such plans isn’t to make health consumers wiser. It’s to shift costs, away from the employer and health insurer, and onto – you guessed it – the patient. Never mind that since 1980 wages for the middle class and working class have flatlined or declined, while health costs have skyrocketed; we’re scheduled to get the shaft on medical costs nonetheless. Which is why medical bankruptcies have skyrocketed in recent decades.
As has, I strongly suspect, the medical collection industry. Who might be profiting from this explosion in medical costs and lawsuits? Somehow I doubt that it’s the middle class or the poor.
So here’s the most recent thing that happened to us. We got a collection letter from a local hospital. Teri’s doctor had sent her there for some tests a few months ago; nothing terribly unusual, just the kind of test that every woman probably ends up having done sooner or later.
Just to be clear, she’s fine. But there was good and sufficient reason for her doctor to order those tests – they were certainly appropriate and necessary. She’d had such tests before and they’d been fully covered without question.
But this time we got a bill from the hospital where she’d had the test for $1560.00. Need I say that we were horrified? I’ve been through hell with these medical situations before; the thought of going through all that again was really almost unbearable. Still, I girded my mental loins and plunged in.
There are several things to remember when you’re dealing with this sort of situation: