THIS IS NOT A BILL
We see these words on a statement from our insurance provider every time we use our health insurance. Now, let me start off by saying that I am thankful we have insurance and do not want to take it for granted, but if we don't pass health reform soon we are all facing a problem of premium costs that are spiraling out of control. No, I'm not equating health reform with government-run insurance. We need regulation.
Premiums are going up everywhere, some people are seeing upwards of a 30% hike in their premiums year over year. This is insane! People are angry over higher taxes (which actually went -down- last year), all the while their premium bills keep rising. Why aren't the tea parties being held on the front steps of the health care insurers and providers?
I consider myself lucky that we did not get hit with a raise in our insurance premiums last year. IU ate the hike in premiums for us ($7 million across the board), but given the economy we did not get a cost of living raise. Could have been worse in my opinion, so I'm content with that.
We have to ask why is insurance so costly? Well, your health care statements (the reports that read “THIS IS NOT A BILL”) might shed some light. Here are some examples:
Our kids both had their yearly checkup. They were taken together and seen together for convenience sake. For Tristen it was time for a hearing test (click when you hear the beep) billed at $34, and a vision test (just a simple “read the bottom line on the chart” exam) billed at $11. For Trevor it was time to fill out a questionnaire about where he is mentally. Questions like “does he recognize and remember the name of a friend?”. They call this a neurological exam. It was $20. The office visit themselves? $110 per kid. There were also a second round of h1n1 shots thrown in. Insane! Now, of course, the insurance company has negotiated “lower” rates to pay than this but in the end the provider earned over $300 from that visit to give an official thumbs-up for 2 healthy kids.
As for me, I have just finished up a 3 week regimen of synvisc injections in my right knee. Each visit breaks down to a $70 office visit, $54 “medical supply” fee (for the sanitizing swap and topical anesthesia spray.. ripoff!), and $118 for a “surgical procedure” since the needle goes under the knee cap. I see the doctor for less than 10 minutes to get this done. This does not count the cost of the injection itself, which is astronomical. Again, the insurance company has negotiated a lower rate and the visit itself comes to about $153. For 10 minutes.
On the one hand, I'm glad to have “coverage” for all of this. But, insurance companies are not charity organizations. The money they pay out on claims is made up through the group collective of premiums. In the end, myself and my employer pay those bills. The rise in insurance premiums need to be fixed along with the rise in costs. One can not be fixed without the other. Unchecked, these costs will continue to rise. Because right now, there is nothing to stop them.
Just something to think about..
On a slightly related note, this is a great TED talk tying statistics of global health and wealth together visually. Nothing political, just interesting statistics.