27 October 2009

Obamanomics and Healthcare

I found a receipt for my short hospital stay almost 53 years ago. It cost my parents $100.00 to get me out of hock..er out of the nursery and bring me home. I looked up the current costs and found that a baby is going to cost between $6000.00-16,000.00 now. It all depends on whether or not there is need for a C-section and if there are other complications.

Thirty-five years ago my friend was without insurance when her son was born. She had the $25.00 a month plan and paid him off in full. Years ago people my age and older actually paid their medical bills like that and it worked. You knew it was your obligation and you paid. I just recently finished paying my portion of my hospital bills from last year. Even paying my 10% was difficult, but I got the job done.

Earlier this month I had an MRI. I have insurance and my cost was about $43.00 which had to be paid before I had it done. Because I have insurance the MRI folks who normally charge $2525.00 for this test were willing to accept less than $500.00 in total from my insurance company and me. Without insurance and without a pre-test agreement, they would expect me to pay their full amount.

What to do when you don't have insurance isn't a new problem. Years ago you weighed your salary by the benefits that were provided. You were willing to work for less per hour when the medical benefits were there. What happened to those days? Employers couldn't keep up with the higher costs of insurance and maintain the same salaries for their employees. My insurance was once paid in full by my employer. Those days are long gone. I am not complaining. I have insurance.

Those of us with insurance are noticing that pending legislation has our providers panicky and our premiums are going up, not down. Employers are requiring their employees to jump through more hoops. A friend of mine had to submit to having blood tests, being weighed and measured in order to have benefits from her employer. Workers are being separated into tiers of risk and being charged accordingly. No doubt this is the insurance industry's answer to not being allowed to refuse coverage to some. Insurance is a transfer of risk. The more risk the insurance company is willing or made to assume the more they want you to pay. When their risk increases, so do your premiums... even if you are not the cause of the increase. Some of the cost gets distributed to everyone.

Are we trying to take health insurance the way of automobile insurance? The more accidents and tickets you have as a driver and what type of car you drive have a direct impact on the cost of your insurance- along with geography, state laws and claims paid out. How much your insurance company pays in claims in an area influences the cost to everyone in that area. Some folks are such bad drivers they cannot get insurance unless they go to their state's assigned risk plan. In states where insurance is mandatory, the state evenly distributes those few drivers who are an unacceptable risk and refused the chance to purchase insurance to all the companies providing insurance in that state. That way no one company has to take all the bad drivers. You can bet the health insurance companies want no part in being regulated like this and I am not sure we want them to be either. I don't have the answers. I don't think the government does either- despite the charming assurances of President Obama.

HOWEVER, I would rather have saddled my grand-kids with taxes to provide some folks health care than bailout/bonuses for executives and the companies they ruined. Trouble is, nobody asked me.

My only comfort is knowing none of this has caught God by surprise. He isn't in heaven wondering how to bail us out. Now, watch the video again and smile.

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