8.27.2008

Why we can't ignore the issue of Health Care

Because people in "The Best County in America to Raise a Family", one of the richest counties in the country, can't afford it.
condo hotel
Today my husband needed to see a doctor for a poison ivy outbreak. Our doctor wasn't in. The Minute Clinic at a CVS on his way home took one look at it and said he needed to go see a Real Doctor- the nurses at the clinic couldn't help him. It was the eye swelling shut that did it, I think. We ended up at a local MedCheck. While in the waiting room, this is an actual conversation I overheard between the receptionist and a mother of a a 12 or 13 year old boy. The mom looked like a typical Carmel soccer mom, the son like a typical grungy junior-higher.
Mom: Hi. I need to have my son see a doctor. He's been coughing to the point of throwing up last night, and again at school today.
Receptionist: Has he been here in the last 2 years?
Mom: No, I've never been in one of these places. Our doctor couldn't get him in.
Receptionist: You'll need to fill out these top two forms.
(Mom starts filling out the forms, then stops)
Mom: How much will this visit cost?
Receptionist: Do you have health insurance?
Mom: No.
Receptionist: Well, then, the base cost is $111.38 just to see a doctor, and that doesn't include any procedures, x-rays, etc.
Mom: Oh. I can't afford that!
(Pushes the clipboard back toward the receptionist)
Mom (to son): We're going.
Son: What? Why?
Mom: We'll find somewhere else.
My heart sank for them. These were not the typical people you would label uninsured. And yet they are. And they are struggling. In an affluent county. I saw today that health coverage isn't an issue just affecting certain neighborhoods, or certain types of people. Not having health coverage, and dealing with the cost of health care, is something people from more and more walks of life are having to face. Because I'm one of The Insured, I tend to tune out the conversations. But, today I saw, the issue matters.

We just switched our health insurance from a typical plan to an HSA plan. I'm curious to see how it works out. If anyone wants to know why or what the difference, let me know, & I'll post about it. Otherwise, I might just bore everyone. After today, I'm glad we have insurance at all.

6 comments:

Alisse Goldsmith said...

Great post. I think you hit it on the nail there - how do we expect our country to succeed if people can't afford to care for basic illnesses?

jjeaton said...

So are you on a high-deductible plan then? I'd like to hear about it.

Marie said...

Of course the issue matters. I have not had health insurance in my adult life.

The question is, what is the solution?

People need food. Shall the government be required to provide it free?

People need water. Shall the government be required to provide it free?

We also need: jobs, shelter, clothing, dental care, and transportation.

These are all legitimate needs.

However, if we decide the government must provide it, that means you must provide it.

By the time you pay for everyone else's needs, you will find yourself totally broke. You are not called to provide for everyone else. Charitably, yes, but not by force.

You will pay for everyone's bad and sinful choices, not just for a twist of providence.

This is why I oppose government funded healthcare (and food, and shelter, etc.) It ultimately impoverishes everyone.

MrsB said...

We love our HDHP with HSA. We budget for the entire deductible, and life is good.

Joanna, I think it's possible the mother in your post may have ended up receiving care for her son at the nearest ER. While I think it's a terrible misuse of emergency rooms, it's unfortunately the easiest route for the uninsured, since they HAVE to treat you & may or may not get paid for it later. I certainly hope Josh is feeling better.

I suggest the Happy Hospitalist blog for more reading on the good & bad of emergency room medicine, all that is broken about the US health care system, etc.

Marie, I think the difference is that food, clothing, water, and transportation can be purchased in small amounts as needed. Health care, unfortunately, can bankrupt a person in the course of one serious illness.

Marie said...

Well, shelter can't generally be bought in small bursts. Food, of course, day to day, but it is considerable anxiety to go day to day with food/water/heat etc.

Dental care shouldn't bankrupt you, anyway.

I do believe that is why bankruptcy laws protect consumers. However, I wouldn't want to see anyone go bankrupt due to an accident or illness.

In our state (California) once your income falls below a certain level (which is quickly should you be seriously ill or hurt, unable to work) you qualify for Medi-Cal.

As for the lady in this post, who could not come up with the $111 for her son, I have been thinking about her and here is what I think:

She doesn't have cable? She doesn't have a cell phone? She doesn't buy new clothes?

Because you could have $100 in one month if you just gave those up for one month.

Maybe she doesn't. OK. She has no credit at all? If not, why not?

Maybe it's not her fault she has no credit. Then, she has no family? Not one loved one who could give or loan her $111?

Estranged from all family? Then I wonder, did she even approach the place about taking payments? I have approached several different dentists/doctors about payments over the years. Most said yes.

No one will take a payment? Then can she go to the church? Perhaps she is not a member of a church. But most churches, mine included, would pay $111 for a needy kid should they be approached and the preceding possibilities get ruled out.

Finally, she is not eligible for welfare? Not even medical for a dependent child, and she is that poor?

I'd have liked to see her be more proactive for her child, and finally. . .

where was the child's father?

Anonymous said...

I"m interested in learning more about your HSA. Do you use it in additon to your regular insurance?
I'm not reading your post regularly now, but maybe Matt can read for me:)

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