Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Insurance? Yikes!

A co-worker and I were looking over the new plans our employee association is being offered by the City, and beyond the bewildering array of "options", the salient fact is that neither of us felt assured that we were actually being taken care of. My plan is nearly doubling in cost, and while I feel lucky enough to have coverage at all, I know for a fact that serious scamming is occurring all over this system. Last year I decided to take advantage of my supposedly "good" plan, and underwent a battery of tests to discover if there was anything severe going on with my body. At no point did I feel comfortable with any of the people that were administering these exams--the most interested doctor I saw was clearly a student, because her diagnoses and suggestions were all overridden by a senior physician who examined me for all of 5 seconds. No one figured out what was going on, though, even after a CT scan and a very painful and invasive exam.
What I found most intriguing, though, was the billing and payment process. The amounts presented to the patient are far different--staggeringly so--from what are given to the insurance company, and no one seems to care. It's nice that I didn't have to pay the exorbitant fees listed, but that they are bilking the insurance company is clearly symptomatic of what's so wrong with our health care system. The doctors love it because they get paid whatever they want. The insurance companies love it, because they get to complain about how outrageous the costs are, all the while raising premiums and copays and deductibles through the roof to cover them anyway. No insurance company is going out of business in this field; have you ever heard of one that has? The cost of health care in this country is psychotically out of control, and that's because no one benefits from lowering costs. No one that matters, that is. The agency that is responsible for making sure this "market" is regulated, our federal government, has been hamstrung by Republicans into impotence since 1994, as all of the hogs get to feed from the public trough. Mergers and acquisitions have made a mockery of what used to be capitalism in this country, due solely to the relaxation and elimination of regulatory guidelines pressed by Republicans since 1980. We are now faced with little real choice for services (internet, especially broadband, connectivity) and goods (as Wal-Mart is systematically destroying the retail world); no options at all in some cases (think local cable, for example). The only beneficiaries from deregulation were the businesses themselves. Why am I so unsurprised that Republicans run most of them . . . ?


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