It’s been an interesting year for me regarding my health and medical insurance as routine hernia surgery last month has given me some first hand experience in how the health care industry works (see Bitter Bill: Why Medical Bills Are Killing Us) and, just last week, we got word that our health insurance premiums will soon be going up by almost a third.
On the first subject, I have to say that, having had similar surgery about eight years ago, the medical industry continues to progress in leaps and bounds as the entire process was even smoother than before (and I didn’t pass out this time when they stuck in the IV).
This includes really cool “glue” that has replaced sutures over the incision and even more effective drugs that are used during and after the procedure.
No complaints there.
Once the medical bills started to arrive, it became clear that anyone of moderate means who thinks they can “self insure” is very misguided. Not only are medical costs sky-high, but without an insurance company on your side, you pay about double to most of your care providers.
I was stunned to see the doctor bill indicate $X and the insurance company says pay $X/2.
For some reason, the hospital bill (the biggest of the lot) saw less than a 10 percent reduction – I have no idea whether this is the case across the rest of the country and who’s winning the battle between hospitals and insurance companies as detailed in the Time Magazine article referenced above.
A routine annual exam a couple weeks back revealed that everything’s hunky dory after about two years of “living la vida low carb”. The doc said that what you do in your 50s makes all the difference in how your body is in your 70s. You can either be a 70-year old in a 50-year old’s body or a 70-year old in an 80-year old’s body.
It’s your choice based on the choices you make regarding diet, exercise, etc.
Last week, we got a note from the insurance company informing us that our rates will soon go up by 28 percent. I figured I’d give them a call since there was one minor outstanding issue from my annual checkup and I’d ask about the rate increase. Surprisingly, I got an earful from this insurance company about the impact of the Affordable Care Act on the industry and, not surprisingly, it is now clear who will be paying for all those “free” preventive services mandated by the law.
As you may or may not know, annual checkups are now included at no cost as part of health insurance plans and this comes with colonoscopies, mammograms, and a few other goodies that, if you’re in your 20s or 30s, you could care less about right now.
Anyway, a back-of-the-envelope calculation reveals my wife and I have already gotten about $3,000 worth of these services in the last couple years and, now, the health care industry wants that money back.
This is likely going on all across the country right now as I was told that our insurance company has been paying out 92 percent of the premiums they receive on health care costs. Presumably, this is up from a smaller percentage that allowed for more money to flow to the bottom line and, to no one’s surprise, this isn’t going over very well.
Of course, everything changes in another six months and both insurers and states are still struggling to adapt.
My guess is that things are going to get worse before they get better, money-wise, but the sort of preventive care changes being implemented are surely a positive development.
We still have the best health care in the world – if you can afford it.