Everyone is cheering the health reform that our Supreme Court just declared constitutional. Well, not everyone. I for one am not cheering. It isn’t that I don’t want everyone to have health. I do very much want that. But I think we have focused the whole debate on the outcome we hope for without scrutinizing the means.
I recently calculated the cost of my family’s health care. My husband and I own a business. I am the one who shops for our employees’ health care plan and manages enrollment. At least once a year I have to consider the cost benefit analysis of this now MANDATORY benefit. I just discovered that every time my family visited the medical doctor last year it cost me $861.82 per visit. That’s my insurance premium plus co-pays. Our business also pays a portion of our health care premium and it chipped in $627.96 per visit. The total cost for each trip to the doctor was $1,489.78!
Zowee! How can that be?! I have a child with Asthma, 5 family members with Celiac disease, and a 3 year old who thinks he can fly! It must be that we use a lot of health care! In reality, if we used more medical care our cost per visit would be lower. Last year we visited the medical doctor 6 times. It cost $8529.57 in insurance premiums to deliver the “assurance” that I would have access to medical care if we needed it. I also paid $70 for prescriptions (two.) And I paid $1741.60 for alternative health care services not covered on my insurance plan. (I didn’t include any dental expenses in these calculations.)
Doesn’t health care = health? If I used the doctor more wouldn’t we be healthier? Our visits last year included two mole removals, one wart removal, and one ER trip for a broken arm with two visits for follow up care. (It turns out 3 year olds can’t fly.) No one got sick enough to need more than a vaporizer and a few over the counter remedies (totaling $96.14 by the way.) I doubt if we had showed up at our doctor’s office to get more out of our investment in health insurance that we would have gained better health or less sickness.
Spending more on health care doesn’t make us healthier. The World Health Organization ranks us #37 and we spend more than any other country. Costa Rica, Saudi Arabia and Chile beat us, and Monacco, who ranks 99th in spending. If we are really serious about improving health care in our nation, maybe we should focus on the source of health.
I am not just writing to complain about how much I pay for health care and how much more I think I’m going to pay in the near future. I actually have a couple of solutions. I didn’t think up either of these on my own, so I can’t take the credit, but I am behind changing some things and so should you if you don’t want to pay more than you already do for health care.
Someone proposed (I wish I had paid attention because I’d like to write a letter to the author of this idea and tell them I think they are a genius!) funding the new national health care plan by a tax on health care. So if I go to the ER for every sniffle and rash I pay a tax on that service and it fills the coffers that help pay for my health care instead of the healthy people out there who are proactively achieving good health paying for me and all of the others who are so relieved that the government is now going to take care of them! (Confess, you have sighed in relief and imagined FREE health care for the rest of your life.)
Idea number 2! This one is so obvious I can’t believe the government isn’t interested in it. There is more and more evidence that a healthy lifestyle reduces disease (both prevents and reverses it!) and thus reduces health expenses, and reduces insurance costs. Many businesses now get lower insurance rates for their employees who follow a health program and they pass that savings on to their employees. Maybe if insurance cost less it would be more accessible to more people.
I would cheer for a common sense solution that created a system where more people could get access to health care because 1) health care costs are less 2) health insurance cost less, and 3) everyone needed less because we were focused on creating health at the source not at the broken down end!
Obamacare, National Health Care is NOT going to be FREE.