Today I have to speak up. Just finished reading a few things: the TIME article on Ryancare, Fareed Zakaria’s take on Obamacare and Ryancare and my own bills from my short ER stint few months ago. I consider the latter ‘reading’ because it is indeed a document, an article in itself and because it made me think, think and act. My action being doing a immediate google search for ‘medical bill interpreters’ to check if such a thing existed. Seeing that it didn’t (except in the capacity of working for an insurance agency), I thought that would be an ideal small business to start. And with that came a lot of thoughts flooding, the chief among them, how to fund such a business. That was when the circle closed in my mind, that is exactly what is wrong with Healthcare in America.
Ok – now I have to give you a little background. I myself am an Occupational Therapist with a private practice and a degree from a third world country with its own set of healthcare woes. There is a little bit of a socialist in me and I yearn to change my practice into a non-profit one much to the chagrin of my accountant.
Let me get back to the issue of American Healthcare. As I see it, as a successful and popular practicing healthcare worker, if I have to give one WHOLE paycheck to get a simple CT scan done – I have to wonder, how do the other people afford this. And why is it, that a simple CT scan, the technology that is by now, so old and so common (been around since 70s, became popular in the 90s and standard scanning option in the new millennium, still costs 4 figures. I see that it is so because I have to pay 5 people to do that – the person who takes the scan, reads the scan, signs off on the scan, interprets the scan and who tells me of the scan. I think the only person left out of my bill was the person who wheeled me into the scan. I don’t have a problem with so many people being gainfully employed for the sake of a successful completion of the act of the CT scan. But they all need to be paid and they all look at me to get paid. And I look at my insurance. And then I wonder how can they afford it.
Unfortunately I know how exactly they can afford it. Today, thanks to the bungled up version of Affordable Healthcare Act out there and the sheer length of the time given to private insurance companies to make sure they do not fall into the trap of – oh actually doing what they are supposed to do – pay for sick people and God forbid, not make a profit by doing so – that they can exploit to the best degree and pass on the cost of paying for the said “affordable” healthcare to actually every single family that has a sick person listed on their policy. Today, a family of 4 has to pay twice their paycheck for monthly premiums and atleast 4 times their monthly income on annual deductibles (which, by the way, since middle of 2010, has to be met by each individual covered under the policy individually and not collectively as a family) – all because the private insurance industry is preparing to pay for the care of the sick individuals who, prior to mandates of “Obamacare”, they could essentially ignore. Really – how does this make healthcare anywhere close to “affordable”?
I myself have advised families to look into ‘state offered health plans’ because it is outrageous that they have to take out a second or a third mortgage just to pay us – us meaning all healthcare workers in this for-profit industry. We take pledges to care for people’s welfare and general health and contribute to wellness. How is having people go bankrupt compatible with our Oath?
Why do we have to pay out 5 people for a simple procedure? Why is it that when you go to a doctors office, there are 4 people you have to see before you see the physician? We have not improved the efficiency of service delivery in this model but complicated it to such an extent that we need “people to interpret our bills”. We have increased the probability of making an error fivefold by adding the number of people delivering one service. Whose masterplan was this? Which fresh grad right out of healthcare management thought of this brilliancy? Why does not my physician know how to read a CT? why does he have to pay someone else to read it? Quite like Windows when the world needs a Mac.
And why aren’t people speaking up about this – about where can you cut costs within the existing model of service delivery? Why are we sitting around and analyzing Ryancare which essentially does nothing to change this, instead passes the buck to Private industry, who we so very well know, are only interested in not letting their profits sink. Sure that is going to save the federal government the money, absolutely. But who is going to pay for it? We, the people. So people, please speak up. Drive down the cost of service delivery. Bring down the bills to one or 2 lines and not itemized into ridiculous individual codes that creates room for exploitation of ANY system. Look at the beautiful system of service delivery of Mayo clinic. People that we have voted into Congress and Senate – please hear the common man on the street and not just the rich economists and fiscal advisors, who probably have the comfort of enjoying the greatest healthcare plans that cover every sniffle and every itch, leaving the really sick ones to pay, really pay when it hurts.