Paying for health care … that’s you paying

The trend today is for high deductible health plans. The idea is that if you pay more, you will be a prudent shopper and thus look for the best deal. More individual concern for health care costs; fine, but we are going about it the wrong way. 

The high deductible includes all health care, thus a family with a serious and costly event could suffer a financial crisis while at the same time high deductibles often exclude so-called preventive care services which are “free.”  We have it backwards, we ignore the very purpose of insurance. 

Health care costs took off and continued to climb as basic insurance expanded to cover every element of health care. Today, most Americans accept the rationale for “free” preventive services and “free” birth control, co-payments for a simple office visit and reimbursement for wellness visits. 

We made health care unaffordable because we eliminated any semblance of the insurance concept. We determined that any number of non-essential items we spend lots of money on are affordable while a $25 a month pill or taking our children to the pediatrician for a check up or DPT shot is not. 

In 1961 when I began working in employee benefits we had coverage for hospitalization, in-patient physician services and limited benefits for certain tests such as x-rays. There was no coverage for most outpatient services or for prescription drugs. Both health care and health insurance were affordable. 

A $5.00 office visit in 1961 should cost $40.13 today. Even using medical cost inflation it should be no more than $101.21, but the typical office visit is nearly $200 while the Healthcare Bluebook says a fair price is $95. Part of the problem is nobody knows what a fair price is because pricing is based not so much on costs and profits, but to cope with the allowances by various third-party’s. 

While we continue to seek the right answer, we also continue to undermine the very idea of insurance. If Americans truly what “free” health care with little or no concern for premiums, then they better get on board for a single payer system where all the considerable costs are buried in taxes. 

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