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How to deal with rising health insurance costs

Published:

Shouldn't health insurance be treated like car insurance?  If you get in an accident or make a claim, your rates go up.  If you've never made a claim your rates go down. 

After that being considered, a sliding scale based on age should be implemented.

I've never spent a night in a hospital since the day I was born and I've never made a major claim against a health insurance company, but I'm paying higher premiums than people half my age that have suited doctors and hospitals or made major claims against their insurance.

Once again, I'm faced with the prospect of having to drop all health insurance because of cost.  This is just not fair.  I've paid into the system my whole life, never drawn on it and if I have a heart attack tomorrow, I (or my family) will have to come up with $50,000 to pay for it because I couldn't afford to bankroll the law suits of the dishonest A-holes, the $10 aspirins or the $20 rolls of toilet paper.  Who knows what they're charging for a glass of tap water these days...maybe $5 ?

No wonder people get pissed off.
Entry #56

Comments

1.
Comment by Rip Snorter - September 16, 2006, 9:05 pm
Interesting entry, Rick. Those medicos spend years in public universities to learn how to get rich from insurance companies. The pharmaceutical companies price their drugs based on the assumption everyone's insured, so nobody's damaged when they charge out the wazoo for prescription medications. Works like a charm for everyone except the uninsured.

I ain't insured, which is why I buy my prescription medications in Mexico, where it ain't much more expensive than aspirin. And it doesn't have to be prescribed by a sawbones, doesn't require a $100 dollar visit, doesn't require any lab work.

J
2.
justxploringComment by justxploring - September 16, 2006, 9:28 pm
I agree that we should all be able to get affordable health insurance, Rick. I never thought that at 55 I'd be waiting for the day I go on Medicare so I can't be turned down. But I don't agree people should be punished for getting sick. It's not the same as running a red light or driving wrecklessly.

People who smoke are always rated up as well as people who are very overweight, but just because you were unlucky to get cancer 3 years ago and lucky enough to beat it, you shouldn't be slapped in the face. I understand why insurance companies charge high rates but I fought them all the way to get paid when I had health insurance (don't have any now) through a company. Every claim was challenged as being "pre-existing" although I won every case. I wonder if they expect a certain percentage of people to give up without a fight. One time I said to the customer service rep "Hey, everything is pre-existing after you're born."   

It's funny that now I am a licensed agent, although I don't specialize in private health plans. The insurance companies use the Law of Large Numbers and have to look at the area, the gender and the age group to determine rates. Then you can be individually rated up or down depending on your health. No matter what, it's very expensive. Are you sure you are paying double the rate of someone who has made major claims unless that person is part of a group plan? Someone with a lot of medical problems has a hard time getting cheap coverage at any age. Anyway, if you never use your health insurance, have you considered switching to an HSA? I'm not sure what you have now. Not trying to get too personal, sorry.

The irony is that I've worked for insurance agencies that don't offer health insurance! Something needs to be done in this country. Unfortunately, the people who aren't contributing to society are often those who get the free care, but that's a whole other issue I guess I won't get into now. My neighbor never worked much so now he gets everything for free because he was diagnosed with lung cancer. After chemo & radiation he smokes 2 packs. I sound mean, but I see this everywhere. One the one hand, I want to be a humanitarian and take care of everyone, and it would be morally wrong to let a homeless man or an illegal immigrant die in a hosptial waiting room. But on the other hand, shouldn't the people who have paid into the system, paid taxes, blah, blah, be the ones to benefit?
3.
Rick GComment by Rick G - September 17, 2006, 12:26 am
Jack, I used to get my meds out of country too. Then I was threatened by the NY Port Authority which is real close to that big statue on Ellis Island. I'm kind of giving up on the concept of freedom, liberty and justice. The big gal carrying the torch says she'll accept the poor, the tired and the weary...in small letters on the backside it says if you're poor, tired and weary, then get the hell out of here.
4.
Rick GComment by Rick G - September 17, 2006, 12:31 am
Nancy, I understand what you are saying. It's not right to compare my health needs to someone who really needs it. I don't have a problem with that at all. I guess what bothers me is people that are getting better health care for free than I am getting for cost and a $5000 deductible. Will I get the same consideration when I can no longer afford health insurance, after having paid my dues for 35 years and never collecting? No, I won't.

An illegal immigrant has more health benefits at no cost than I do at $200/month with a $5000 deductible. I can't afford a physical, or eyeglasses but it seems to be carte blanche service to non-citizens or people in the "system". I don't want to be in the system, I just want the same rights to the same health care at the same price as everyone else in the United States. I'll pay my way and my fair share, but let's make it fair and equitable. The government sees fit to regulate our utility companies. When we're dead we do not need electricity or a telephone. It's time for priorities to be set and price gouging standards to be set in all aspects of our life. We bristle when the price of gas goes up from $3 to $3.10 a gallon but don't blink an eye when grandma is charged $10 for two Tylenol during her hospital visit.
Heaven forbid when the plumber hands you a $90 bill for installing a garbage disposer after an hour on his back under your sink scraping his knuckles bloody and getting debris in his eyes. But the doctor at the clinic gets a free pass for spending 10 minutes with you charging you $100 to tell you everything is OK even though you know it isn't. See me next week, he says. What kind of scam is that? If the plumber said that you'd kick him in the ass on the way out the door and call the bank to void the check.

I love the argument that a doctor had to pay for his education. When he wants his kitchen cabinets, sink, faucet and countertops, appliances, floor tile and windows replaced, who paid for the contractor's education? What makes the doctor's education more important than the contractor's ten years of experience? The doctor might keep us alive but without the rest of us he'd be living in a cave curled up in the fetal position warding off the night chill and the rodents scurrying about. Too bad he didn't respect the exterminators, the HVAC technicians, the carpenters, the concrete workers, the electonics engineers who gave him light and internet service, etc., etc.

There's no "Gods" in this world. Nobody is better than his neighbor. Nobody's job is more important than the next. The doctor and the contractor both stopped at McDonalds for egg McMuffins and coffee on their way to work. Are those employees who brewed the coffee and fried the eggs less important than the doctor and the contractor?

Flat out answer, no. I have more respect for the coffee brewer than I do for the doctor.

The whiter your collar gets the further you get from the real deal of life.
5.
Comment by shalini - September 17, 2006, 12:53 am
fyi, a number of patients from the US, europe and the UK visit India for their treatment / surgeries...ranging from cosmetic to serious heart and liver surgeries...the post operative medicare is very good in the well know hospitals here....and for americans its 50 times the value for their money, besides the fact that something that costs about 40 k USD costs roughly about 12K USD here....meditourism here is even more cost effective than in thailand........
6.
Rick GComment by Rick G - September 17, 2006, 1:10 am
Shalini, my brother needs a liver transplant and time is running out. He has been on the eligible list in the US for a couple years. Who would I contact about this? Please PM me.

Thanks...a lot.
7.
justxploringComment by justxploring - September 17, 2006, 2:27 am
I also used to buy my medication from an overseas pharmacy. I would fax a prescription to South Africa and get the drugs for 1/4 of the price. Then they shut the place down. So I found another pharmacy in Mexico, but I got a letter from U.S. Customs in Miami that scared me. I'd never make it in prison. When I started to cut down on expenses, I bought some cheap toilet paper and that was enough of a challenge for me.

8.
Comment by shalini - September 17, 2006, 2:34 am
Rick, here is a number .....APOLLO HOSPITAL, NEW DELHI......speak to a Mr. Anil Maini......telephone 0091-98-185-28048...this guy is incharge of their admin. and medi tourism...alternatively speak with Dr. Anupam Sibal...he is not only the head of Apollo at New Delhi but also a very well known and accomplished liver surgeon. His number is 0091-98-101-14840.....give my reference ( Shalini Khanna)...find out the details....then I'll put you in touch with a couple of my friends who run travel agencies and help out with medi tourism. The latter of the two gentleman is known to us personally......I hope I've been able to help. All the very best.
9.
emilygComment by emilyg - September 17, 2006, 2:48 am
that may be so rick - but you wouldn't want the coffee brewer operating on your brother or any other family member.
10.
Rick GComment by Rick G - September 17, 2006, 2:55 am
Thanks much, Shalini...I owe you one.

Emily, no I wouldn't want the coffee brewer operating on anyone, but that person deserves just as much respect as anyone else, doctors included. There is no monetary value on what we do for a living but there is a value in what we do as a human.
11.
justxploringComment by justxploring - September 17, 2006, 3:51 am
Unfortunately, Marxism does not work in a Democratic society where people are free to make choices. I mean "From each according to his abilities and to each according to his needs" is too unrealistic. Getting into a good medical school isn't easy. Keeping your grades up is even harder. Plus it's also very, very expensive. But let's forget about doctors. What incentive would I have to go back to school, study hard to get a better job, if I couldn't make more money? You are right to say that someone working at a fast food restaurant is just as important as a doctor or lawyer in the eyes of God. However, I know plenty of people who have no motivation and would gladly sit by and let everyone else do the work and pay the taxes while they mooch. So there has to be a reward for going the extra mile. Respect is one thing, money is another. Baseball players make a lot more than doctors BTW.
12.
Rick GComment by Rick G - September 17, 2006, 4:21 am
Nancy, I think my point is this. Insurance is insurance. If you don't make claims your rate goes down. If you make claims your rate goes up until you are uninsurable.

(Life insurance is different of course).

A person who has never made a claim with their insurance company should get lower premiums than one who has made 20 claims. That's my point. I don't care about the "statistics" I'm talking about the individual. A 55 year old person who never got in an accident in their life should get a discount on car insurance from a person that gets in an accident every three years. And they do get that discount. Why can't the insurance industry extend the same courtesy to health insurance? Sure, I might have a massive heart attack and make one life-long claim but Joe Blow has nickle and dimed the industry for all his life to cost the insurance company much more than my swift heart attack and then Joe Blow dies of a massive heart attack as well. Who cost them more to insure? Me or Joe?
13.
konaneComment by konane - September 17, 2006, 9:46 am
I believe the problem began several years ago with malpractice cases which lined lawyers pockets well, bought their wives a new Benz every year, sent their kids to ivy league schools.

Due to those sometimes improper lawsuits and overly emotional juries, malpractice insurance has skyrocketed.

Couple that with illegals bleeding our medical system dry and you have a recipe for what we're seeing right now only getting worse until the invasion is stopped, tort reform is passed.
14.
csfbComment by csfb - September 17, 2006, 10:58 am
Our health-care system needs overhauling; and there's a lot of blame to go around.

In maltpractices lawsuits however, we must remember that it is the jury and/or the judge that give those multi-million dollar awards AFTER due hearing. I am quite sure that a jury will not award even one penny, if it is not warranted. The beleaguered consumer would certainly need an attorney, a dream team really, to fight for him. And fighting the system is not cheap. We must not forget that insurance companies, pharmaceutical companies, healthcare companies - these multibillion dollar companies have an army of attorneys whose very sole existence is to work exclusively for them.
15.
TenajComment by Tenaj - September 17, 2006, 11:56 am
Hey Rick G, that big gal carrying the torch (which was done by the French), if you look closely enough there are chains around her feet. It references slavery in this country.

In fact the first replica was rejected because it was a too close depiction of a black slave woman. Our country have come a long way, now it doesn't matter what color your skin is or ethnic background, just how much money you have.
16.
Rick GComment by Rick G - September 17, 2006, 4:49 pm
Good points made about the malpractice lawsuit BS. Indeed that is what is raising our costs. Maybe that will be curtailed?

Janet, they say you learn new things everyday. I know I do. Very interesting fact about the big gal and the chains around her feet. When I leave here I gotta check that out. Thanks for that background.

Meanwhile I bought myself a new flat screen monitor today from Wally Mart. It is really cool and LP is a whole different world right now.

Thanks for your replies, everyone!

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