Saturday, October 27, 2018

Healthcare Remains Life And Death Issue For Many

Healthcare Cost In America Highest In The World
Healthcare cost in America far exceed those of any other country and remain a life and death issue for many Americans. It is interesting how real life can bring truth front and center exposing flaws in national policy. One area that remains both a dismal failure and disaster is healthcare where in an effort to bring better healthcare to millions of Americans as  Obamacare has driven insurance premiums drastically higher. This helped Trump to get elected with his promise of a plan that would be "so good" but anyone paying a massive healthcare insurance premium will tell you the goal of reducing the cost of healthcare has totally eluded us.

Clearly when to seek medical treatment is a personal issue, but the decision is often impacted by just what kind of coverage a person has. It is a fact that across America there still exist people who are responsible, work hard, and pay their bills. This often means they think twice and often three times or more before rushing to create healthcare bills that they will have to pay. At the same time because of the crazy structure we have created in America other people use and abuse healthcare for a number of reasons. This includes things such as the psychological feeling of elevated importance it can create or because they are lonely and it is the only time anyone pays attention to them.

Higher Deductibles Equal No Care For Many
While those supporting the American Care Act (ACA) can drone on about its virtues what they fail to tell you it has probably taken more than a few lives, or to be blunt, killed more than a few hard-working Americans. If you are at a loss as to how Obamacare can take a life I will soon explain using as an example a real-life story. Before I take you there I must mention that during a talk show interview in 2015 Hillary Clinton stated we now have 90% of Americans covered by health insurance. She should have clarified the percentage means little, to be honest it depends on how you define "coverage." Obamacare has failed to drive non-emergencies to low-cost options and society is paying the price.

The crux of this article is the reality that many people have coverage with a deductible so high that they are afraid to use it. In some ways this is akin to having no coverage at all and this poses a massive problem. Today a great number of people suffer the worst of both worlds, not only have their premiums rocketed through the roof, but soaring deductibles have made using the coverage a gamble and a painful experience. Horror stories abound as to the cost of medical bills and how just a few hours of care or a short emergency room visit can quickly generate a bill costing thousands of dollars. These high deductibles are a trap set to create bills many people are forced to pay on top of their already "bone-crushing" premiums.

Cost Are Driven Higher By Unneeded ER Visits
Ironically, someone currently paying very little because of Obamacare will rush to the emergency room when they break a fingernail (minor exaggeration) while many people responsible for their own bills hang back in fear knowing they will face huge costs from things not covered. The bottom-line is that those supporting Obamacare are delusional if they think the sky high deductibles facing so many Americans do not discourage them from seeking medical treatment. High deductibles are keeping people away from hospitals and emergency rooms in huge numbers even when their lives are threatened.

The unintended consequences of Obamacare played out in a true story when someone very close to me proved high deductibles have the potential to kill, and this I know as a fact because I drove them to the hospital. One night in serious pain this person finally entered the emergency room after sitting in my vehicle for about 30 minutes waiting for the pain to subside. It came in waves so she finally conceded to the idea it was not a silly quest and succumbed to the heavy pressure upon her chest. After about an hour and several tests, they found nothing. Of course, they advised her to be admitted for more tests, but feeling rather silly and much better she declined. Isn't spending an estimated two thousand dollars enough to be told nothing.

The next night the same song began to play, again after sitting outside the emergency-room door we took it to the next level and finally entered. This time a heart attack was confirmed and it became go-time, or should I say, almost go-time. By ambulance she was shifted off to their regional center 20 minutes away where after being stabilized she waited for hours as they kicked several patients ahead of her. They were playing the "triage game" which in medical terms means assigning the order in which treatment is given based on the degrees of urgency to wounds or illnesses. It was only during surgery they discovered she was lucky the bomb within her chest had not exploded and if it had she most likely would have died. 

Her blockage was in a blood vessel called the left anterior descending artery, the area that causes a fatal attack known as the "widow maker" because of its severity. It is important to note while this was happening she only appeared stable and before entering surgery they did not know just how dire her condition was. It seems that luck is indeed a big factor in healthcare just as it is in Russian-roulette. Understand some of us take pride in not only resisting visiting both doctors and hospitals but fight such action tooth and nail. Call it stupid pride or stubbornness. It often seems much of the healthcare system would vanish if people used better judgment and were more responsible.

An example is how the father of a friend went to the emergency room because he could hardly walk due to pain radiating from his feet. After several tests the diagnosis that his new shoes were the cause of his pain proved correct. On the completely opposite side of the spectrum are those of us that avoid the whole medical community like the plague. I remember a time years ago when I seriously thought I was having a heart attack during a sales call so I quickly excused myself and went to my car to avoid collapsing in my customer's office, it turned out to be a false alarm and I never bothered to see a doctor. While several things can be taken away from this article one thing is certain, and that is our healthcare system leaves a lot to be desired.

The healthcare wars are far from over and the next skirmish seems to be shaping up around coverage related to existing illnesses also know as preexisting conditions. Still, the elephant in the room remains the idea of a basic single payer system may not be ideal because it means healthcare would have to be rationed in some way but if we want to be realist it sure as hell would in many ways be fairer than what we have today. As we continue our attempts to set this straight it is important to remember any system needs to be structured to encourage people to take more personal responsibility and also allow people financially able to buy supplemental and deluxe coverage if they like, this is currently the way Medicare operates and life really works.

1 comment:

  1. This should of been put in as a footnote "reference" but it slipped by.

    Few Americans were fans of the recently deceased Cuban El Presidente Fidel Castro but he did leave one positive legacy and that is Cuba's quality healthcare system. The poor country of Cuba has managed to guarantee access to care for all segments of the population and obtain results similar to those of the most developed nations.

    The truth is being a doctor is not as fun as you might think and it does not guarantee you respect and instant riches. The article below delves into ways we can fix our broken healthcare system and avoid a huge shortage of physicians in coming years.