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The Knight Crier

Online News Day or Knight - Official news site of North Penn High School - 1340 Valley Forge Rd. Lansdale, PA

The Knight Crier

Online News Day or Knight - Official news site of North Penn High School - 1340 Valley Forge Rd. Lansdale, PA

The Knight Crier

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A Few Questions About Healthcare

With the presidential election of 2012 approaching quickly, many of the problems that we are currently facing in society will be talked about over the next year as the parties debate and nominate their candidates.  Healthcare is likely to be one of those issues once again.  President Obama has introduced his version of change in that industry.  It is commonly referred to as Obamacare.  It remains to be seen how the US Supreme Court will rule on the eventual constitutionality of the legislation but until then, the debate will roll along.

 

I am no expert on the health care industry nor am I an expert on the complexities of how the costs of medical care are paid for by insurance companies.  That being said, I do have some general questions about all this.  Maybe someone can comment with some answers.  Here they are:

 

  1. Why do people say we have a health “care” problem?  We have the best healthcare in the world.  People from all over the world come here because it is the best on earth. Don’t we really have a health “cost” problem?  Finding solutions to a health “cost” problem is very different than finding solutions to a health “care” problem.
  2. Why is health insurance so different from other types of insurances?  All other insurances just pay for “high cost, unexpected emergencies” that pop up in life.  Car insurance pays for accidents.  It doesn’t pay for general maintenance like gas, oil changes, inspection, new tires, wipers, etc.  Homeowners insurance pays for major damage of some kind to your home.  It doesn’t pay for general maintenance like painting, remodeling, yearly services to heaters and such.  But for some reason, we expect health insurance to pay for practically everything.  Medicine, dental check-ups and cleanings, yearly physical exams and eye exams and many others.  Why?  None of those are either “unexpected” or “emergencies.”  They are planned activities, sometimes planned months in advance, that are basically general maintenance for the body. 
  3. Why do doctors and health insurance companies not have commercials?  If you watch primetime TV for more than 15 minutes, you will undoubtedly see multiple car insurance commercials featuring geckos, cavemen, Snoopy, and others all claiming to offer the best service and the lowest prices for consumers.  “Five minutes could save you $500” brags one of them.  “Accident forgiveness” is part of another.  It’s obvious why they do this.  They want you to buy their insurance and have to offer incentives (low prices and/or better quality and service) to do so.  Why do we never see a dentist on TV saying “Buy two cleanings and get one free!”  or a pediatrician commercial offering “free physical exams for all your kids if you sign up for a one year family plan agreement!”  Why do you never see a hospital offer a “lowest price guarantee” for x-rays?  I’m no economist but I think if costs are the issue, insert more competition.  It works for every other industry.  I think even a caveman would understand that.
  4. Why are employers expected to provide health insurance?  We don’t expect them to provide / pay for our car insurance or home owner’s insurance and things work out just fine.  So why health insurance?

 

As I said, I am no doctor or economist nor do I have any work experience in the healthcare industry.  It just seems to me that solving the healthcare(cost) problem may involve answering some or all of these questions.

 

But what do I know?  I’m just a teacher.

 

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Comments (1)

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  • J

    Joe CarconeNov 11, 2011 at 3:56 pm

    I too am no economist or health insurance expert, but I agree. We do have the best doctors, the best hospitals, the best technology, the best medicine , etc. People are quick to lose sight of that when they want to point to other countries whose healthcare is less expensive.

    Your first question is key.
    A relative of mine was win the hospital for about 2 and a half weeks last year. The total bill was a number that was barely comprehensible. I mean, Im talking sooooo expensive that there is simply no way it could be line itemed for justification. Herein lies the problem. With the insurance companies involved, doctors and hospitals have no limit to what they can charge and the result is the “cost” of healthcare.

    My guess is many will have much to say about your second question.
    • If I don’t change my oil or get inspections, or get my fluids filled, brakes replaced, etc, my car is going to just stop running and Im going to have to buy a new one. Car insurance wont cover my car dying and me needing a new one. That’s all on me.
    • If I don’t go to the doctor for an annual check up, or my teeth rot into mouth infections, or I develop cataracts that require major eye surgery, etc. I will end up needing a minor or possibly major medical procedure to stay alive. Insurance covers my procedure, but it also covers my efforts to prevent such procedures. The connections between the maintenance and the surgery are more tenable for a human being than for a car.
    • Also… an oil change costs $35. A dental visit costs much more than that. People can afford an oil change much easier than they can afford a dental visit. This takes us back to the question… why can a dentist charge so much money? But then that also goes to supply and demand. Health and well being are more important than any material possessions, entertainment, etc. So in the capitalist system, if you have a service to provide that makes people healthy – I suppose it would be your prerogative to charge a lot of money for that service because there is a large demand.

    I like the concept of your third question. Not sure how o change that, but I agree with the point you are making

    As to the fourth point. There is an important connection. Your boss needs you to be healthy and productive in order for you to work and work well. So, it is in the best interest of your employer to offer you incentives to help keep you healthy and productive. Thus, the boss says – I will pay you $50,000 a year in salary, and I will also provide you a benefits plan. Because I am carrying 100 people under this plan, the insurance company make it much cheaper per person, so if everyone in our business signs up with us, you will save a lot of money. You wont get this deal if you try to buy your own individual insurance .
    Additionally, since an overwhelming number of America’s employers offer health insurance, now it is a competitive aspect of an employer attracting quality workers. So it would be very difficult for an employer to pull that option now.

    I too am no economist or health insurance expert, but I agree. We do have the best doctors, the best hospitals, the best technology, the best medicine , etc. People are quick to lose sight of that when they want to point to other countries whose healthcare is less expensive.

    Your first question is key.
    A relative of mine was win the hospital for about 2 and a half weeks last year. The total bill was a number that was barely comprehensible. I mean, Im talking sooooo expensive that there is simply no way it could be line itemed for justification. Herein lies the problem. With the insurance companies involved, doctors and hospitals have no limit to what they can charge and the result is the “cost” of healthcare.

    My guess is many will have much to say about your second question.
    • If I don’t change my oil or get inspections, or get my fluids filled, brakes replaced, etc, my car is going to just stop running and Im going to have to buy a new one. Car insurance wont cover my car dying and me needing a new one. That’s all on me.
    • If I don’t go to the doctor for an annual check up, or my teeth rot into mouth infections, or I develop cataracts that require major eye surgery, etc. I will end up needing a minor or possibly major medical procedure to stay alive. Insurance covers my procedure, but it also covers my efforts to prevent such procedures. The connections between the maintenance and the surgery are more tenable for a human being than for a car.
    • Also… an oil change costs $35. A dental visit costs much more than that. People can afford an oil change much easier than they can afford a dental visit. This takes us back to the question… why can a dentist charge so much money? But then that also goes to supply and demand. Health and well being are more important than any material possessions, entertainment, etc. So in the capitalist system, if you have a service to provide that makes people healthy – I suppose it would be your prerogative to charge a lot of money for that service because there is a large demand.

    I like the concept of your third question. Not sure how o change that, but I agree with the point you are making

    As to the fourth point. There is an important connection. Your boss needs you to be healthy and productive in order for you to work and work well. So, it is in the best interest of your employer to offer you incentives to help keep you healthy and productive. Thus, the boss says – I will pay you $50,000 a year in salary, and I will also provide you a benefits plan. Because I am carrying 100 people under this plan, the insurance company make it much cheaper per person, so if everyone in our business signs up with us, you will save a lot of money. You wont get this deal if you try to buy your own individual insurance .
    Additionally, since an overwhelming number of America’s employers offer health insurance, now it is a competitive aspect of an employer attracting quality workers. So it would be very difficult for an employer to pull that option now.

    Reply