My apologies to everyone to whom I owe correspondence, and there are many at the moment. I am battling a particularly vicious bout of health insurance paperwork. They used to say “the cure is worse than the disease”; the sage person who coined the phrase must have had the same insurance as I do.
I know I have many times complained that if only I had a fraction of the time and effort we must spend on health insurance paperwork to do virtually anything else – this web site, see family, live our lives… It’s absolutely oppressive. Unfortunately, with US healthcare insurance, it’s too often your money or your life (or both).
People from countries outside the US probably can’t imagine this situation. This New York Times article gives a sense of what it is like, and it’s only getting worse. Just the EXCESS paperwork that private insurance companies generate costs our system around $350 billion annually (that’s above and beyond the $100 billion or so that we spend annually on health care administration that would, generously speaking, be necessary to administer any system like this regardless), and that doesn’t count the hundreds of billions more the insurance companies get in windfall from delaying and denying care or reimbursements through that paperwork. The result? In the US today, LESS THAN HALF of the $2 trillion dollars spent on healthcare every year go to actual CARE. (source: Public Citizen)
Never accounted for in these cost equations is the enormous toll on the lives of ordinary citizens who are targeted by this paperwork – and the disastrous personal and financial consequences when they lose. Half of all personal bankruptcies in the US are from medical costs, and the majority of those people have insurance at the start of the illness that bankrupts them.
Even doctors in this country, who have traditionally been against change are now in the majority for a nationalized payment system [Reuters story]. And no, I do not think doing this will make us Communists anymore than having publicly-financed universal sanitation (the greatest medical advance in human history and a characterizing difference between first and third world economies), where even poor people have the luxury of bathing in drinking water, did. In fact, I think it makes the most BUSINESS sense.
Sorry to get so upset, I’m sure I’ll have regrets for getting so emotional and off topic and delete this post at some point. I did not post this to begin a discussion about health care in the US, there are better places to take such a discussion [link]. But my life is so dominated by this, I needed to say something. (For the record, I have private insurance through the federal government – meaning, all the disadvantages of private insurance but none of the protections of state insurance laws. The Senators running for President are all running around saying we should have the same coverage they do – well I have the same PLAN as they do, I wish they would tell Me-Non-Congressperson how to get the same COVERAGE!)
So please bear with me, I will get back to you as soon as I can!