Insured to Aggravate

There’s a fair bit of teeth gnashing going on at chez Becca tonight.  You see, we’ve dipped our toes into the water and started searching for health care coverage…our government subsidized COBRA coverage will soon expire, and the cost to maintain this current policy will almost triple.  So we looked into the new independent plans offered by Blue Cross Blue Shield, only to find these plans cost just as much  and provide less coverage.

Grrr.

When it comes to health care, we’ve been pretty spoiled.  My husband’s workplace has always provided us with  group coverage, and even though we’ve had to contribute to the cost, it’s never been prohibitive.  But now that Jim is self-employed, and my part time job doesn’t include health care, we’re on our own.  And let me tell you, that’s a frightening place to be these days.

Insurance is one of the things about modern life that makes me really angry.  I resent being hamstrung by the whole process.  You absolutely cannot live in 21st century America without health care coverage – not unless you want to risk bankruptcy.   And the cost of decent coverage is outrageous – we’re looking at spending more than half of my monthly salary for health insurance.  How much am I going to resent that?  Knowing that the fruits of  two weeks worth of work  every month are going to line the coffers of some rich insurance agency. 

And because my work involves insurance related matters (auto insurance claims), I also know just how capricious and wasteful insurance companies can be.   Just today, a major insurance carrier we work with reinstated benefits for a woman who is clearly a drug addict, has been totally non compliant with treatment for the past two years, and is obviously only interested in bilking the system to maintain her addiction to pain killers and pay her boyfriend to provide her with “attendant care”.  All this while a good friend of mine is fighting Blue Cross tooth and nail to get them to approve a stem cell transplant that could cure her leukemia.

Grrrrrrr.

If  I could, I think I would abolish the entire insurance system and go back to the days when we were all responsible for paying our own medical bills, making sure that those medical bills were “reasonable and customary” (favorite insurance bywords).    The whole thing is just out of control.

And I have no idea how it can ever be fixed.

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8 thoughts on “Insured to Aggravate

  1. Having been self-employed for the past twenty years, I can well understand your frustration – and fear. Providing health insurance for yourself is a scary, expensive process. The only upside is that it’s a tax-deductible business expense for the self-employed.

  2. Having been through COBRA and the loss of COBRA and the search for proper insurance, I feel your pain, Becca. My paycheck should be written to our insurer, every penny goes right to them anyway.

  3. Becca, as you know I’m self-employed. The first ten years in business I had no health insurance because I couldn’t afford it. Then, I became convinced I “had to have it”, and for the next ten years watched my monthly premium go from $137 per month to nearly $500 per month. I never have had a claim. I take no prescriptions.

    A few months ago, I realized I was putting off basic health care because even with the insurance, I couldn’t afford the portions I was being billed. Crazy. Finally, after doing some research, I opted out and I’m living without insurance.

    But look at this… My GP charges me a cash price of $75 per office visit. The orthopedic surgeon I saw re: my shoulder charged $188, which included the xray.
    If I need an MRI, I can get any danged part of my body looked at for $500. In short, I can easily pay for anything I need short of catastrophic care.

    But I still remember what happened when I had no insurance and needed a hysterectomy. The hospital charges were going to be $7,500. I said I had no way to pay because I had no insurance. The woman looked at me and said, “Do you have a credit card?” I said yes, I did. She said, “Well, it you put it on Mastercard or Visa, that’s the same as cash and the price would be $1,500.”

    So I did. That $6,000 markup is pretty much what’s wrong with the health care system – and anyone who thinks things are going to improve under the “new system” is seriously delusional.

    What willl happen if something happens? I don’t know. But I’ll work it out, as I have in the past. In the meantime, reducing my expenses nearly $500/month means that I have some breathing room. Best of all, my stomach isn’t knotted up over the health care system all the time!

    • You’re exactly right about the inflated markups being the root of so many of the health care industry problems. Everything you’ve said makes good sense to me.
      Neither my husband nor I have significant chronic health problems – it’s mostly the catastrophic care that worries me.

  4. I agree with you, Becca. My parents don’t have insurance because they simply can’t afford it, and that terrifies me. Back before my husband and I had children and we both worked for television stations, companies with group plans, we each had our individual policies that cost very little. Now my husband is a partner in a small company, and he has to pay a huge chunk to cover me and the two kids. Not to mention how much we pay out of pocket. The only benefit is that we pay out so much for healthcare, we get to write some of it off. But it’s ridiculous and like you, I have no solution.

  5. The one thing I feel most thankful for in my job is good insurance. Rick, on the other hand, has a huge deductible and while it covered him with his neuro ICU, he doesn’t have the prescription benefits I need so desperately for the inordinate amount of crap I take to help me breathe and the office visits. I feel so for those who have little or no insurance, complicated policies that one wonders if they’re worth it. Until, of course you have to have it. I am hopeful with the national health things that something will come about — if people don’t freak too much until it has a chance to work and maybe grow. I hope. I hope.

  6. It freaks me out, too, I have to admit. Growing up and living in Europe for most of my life I never gave healthcare costs much thought. Sure, I paid for it over there, too, either directly through contributions (Germany) or indirectly through taxes (UK). But compared to the US I never worried about NOT being covered. Healthcare costs in the US are at least double of what they are elsewhere in the western world and that is a big part of the problem. You mention the huge mark-ups of insurance companies but I understand that another contributory factor is the litigation culture in this country. Medical companies (according to my husband who works for one) spend huge amounts of money on lawyers, much more so than in other countries. So unless something is done about those two things I don’t see a way forward, either. I find the whole issue mostly confusing and scary.

  7. Living in a country that belongs to the tope 10 countries with the highest tax rate (>50% of my gross wage is gone to the government…..but we never negotiate gross wages to be honest)

    I am gratefull to live in a country where everyone has a base insurance (not hospitalisation, that’s what most people take privately), where a doctor’s visit doesn’t cost more than 5 euro, where the average Belgian sees a doctor 11 (!!) times a year, where there’s no surgery waiting lists (In may I had 3 days between diagnosis and surgery), …

    When I read posts like this I am so incredibly happy to pay taxes.

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