Just browsing the daily miracle that is a newspaper…

I remember when I was a kid and had major surgery on my leg and having to fill out a lot of paperwork, but there was very little (if any) cost out-of-pocket to my family. The company my family had insurance with had a fantastic plan in the 1980’s.

I remember in the 90’s when we had our first kid. We were on an HMO provided through my employer. I made a joke that it actually cost us more out-of-pocket to adopt a dog from the humane society than to bring my daughter home from the hospital.

I remember a few times in the aughts that there were a few gaps in healthcare coverage. You know, certain things that my family went through weren’t covered by the plan my employer offered. But most things were…and the gaps my family fell into were kind of understandable as they were dental or optical that we kind of knew weren’t covered.

Then something happened in the last several years. To all of us with health insurance. Large co-pays came along with less coverage. Pharmaceuticals were dropped entirely, which, oh-by-the-way, when you have a family member with a chronic condition will allow you to hit your deductible in the first quarter. And, yes, I know that I’m blessed to have insurance to begin with. Others aren’t so lucky. And, yes, I know that it’s awfully nice of my employer to provide that benefit. In the big picture, I’m glad we have it.

Let me start by saying that I know there are no easy answers.
Let me also say that I don’t have the beginnings of a solution.

I wish I did, because the system is flawed. We all know it, too. But when you see it on the front page of the Sunday New York Times, well, it gets the heart pumping better than any cup o’ joe or morning run ever could.

I mean, we all have our stories of how the system worked against us. We all have stories on how hard it is to speak to a human and have an insurance question cleared up by the insurance company. We all have our stories of when we used to pay a $10 monthly co-pay for a medicine that now costs us over $1,000 per year. That “100% covered annual check-up” that required over $250 in payment for lab & blood work. Please don’t think I’m grinding a personal axe, here.

Not at all.

My intent in linking to the article is to simply highlight that the system is goofy in concrete terms. This quote ought to sum up the tone of the article:

In many other developed countries, a basic colonoscopy costs just a few hundred dollars and certainly well under $1,000 [In contrast to one woman who paid roughly $7,600 in New York state]. That chasm in price helps explain why the United States is far and away the world leader in medical spending, even though numerous studies have concluded that Americans do not get better care.

Whether directly from their wallets or through insurance policies, Americans pay more for almost every interaction with the medical system. They are typically prescribed more expensive procedures and tests than people in other countries, no matter if those nations operate a private or national health system. A list of drug, scan and procedure prices compiled by the International Federation of Health Plans, a global network of health insurers, found that the United States came out the most costly in all 21 categories — and often by a huge margin.

Americans pay, on average, about four times as much for a hip replacement as patients in Switzerland or France and more than three times as much for a Caesarean section as those in New Zealand or Britain. The average price for Nasonex, a common nasal spray for allergies, is $108 in the United States compared with $21 in Spain. The costs of hospital stays here are about triple those in other developed countries, even though they last no longer, according to a recent report by the Commonwealth Fund, a foundation that studies health policy.

Again…hear me say that I don’t know what the answers are.

Believe me, I wish I did.

But if you read the article, well, you’ll see a lot of things that cause concern. Oh, and if you have the solution(s), please run for public office…and let’s keep any/all comments civil and void of personal vitriolic attacks on presidents (past or sitting), shall we? Take the time to sift through it even though it’s lengthy. Lots of stuff to think about here, no?