Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Affordable Health Care

The Affordable Care Act is a step in the right direction for improving the state of health care in the United States, but it is a long way from solving the problem of escalating costs for health care in this country. 

The reasons for the outrageous costs of health care are complex, as illustrated in Time Magazine's article: Why Medical Bills are Killing Us. One of the reasons is that health insurance companies are making a huge profit from members no matter what policy we choose, and that not one of the choices is affordable for people in the middle-income brackets. 
I am among those patients who have skipped recommended tests and doctor visits because of prohibitive costs. My husband and I pay $400 a month for Excellus BC/BS Silver Select. Our family deductible is $4,000, so we have been paying out-of-pocket for most doctor visits and tests. Premiums are going up so much for 2015 that we will have to switch to a Bronze level of coverage with a $6,000 deductible.

It's interesting to note that health care professionals in our area rarely receive even a cost-of-living raise. As a per diem health care provider my husband receives neither a raise NOR benefits such as health insurance. And at the clinic he has to push patients through in assembly line fashion because, after all, health care is now more of a big business than a caring profession.
In February, reported that Excellus made a profit of $53 million and a $12.8 million retirement payment to its former CEO, David Klein. Christopher Booth, chief executive officer, earned $1.69 million in 2013. Pretty good for the head of a nonprofit organization.
Insurance companies are not the only ones making a profit on health care. Pharmaceuticals are largely responsible for the rising costs that insurance companies use as their excuse for raising their premiums. If you have been taking the generic antibiotic, doxycycline, you will have noticed the cost recently skyrocketed from a few dollars for 60 pills to well over $100.
To better understand the causes of the health care crisis in this country I recommend reading some of the Time article as well as this one from Forbes: U.S. Healthcare Ranked Dead Last Compared to Ten Other CountriesThe bottom line is: as long as health care is treated as a business, patients AND providers will suffer.

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