Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Hell-th Care

Yesterday we discussed our new health plans at work, followed by individual meetings with our insurance company representative. Not only did this discussion make me want to flee the country, but it really irritated me when it was implied by some that the drastic increases in our premiums were a result of the new healthcare law.

Whether you agree with the Affordable Care Act or not, we're all in the same boat here - our healthcare system is broken, and it needs to be fixed pronto. And honestly - this is the first year anyone is seeing premiums rise 10, 15, 25%? C'mon. Obama is not the reason we're paying insurance companies up the wazoo. This assault on our wallets has been going on for years.

As a single, young person, healthcare costs for me are relatively low, especially considering I won't be bearing children anytime soon. And yet, I'm forced to shell out my hard-earned money, all so I can have a dental hygienist tell me how well I'm flossing and send me a bill for $120. Sure, now my annual lady exams are "free" because they are considered preventative care, but I'll be paying more out-of-pocket this year, for no good reason at all. Sure, it's a lot less than what other people are paying these days, but I don't understand why run-of-the-mill health check-ups have to be such a damn clusterfuck in this country.

I've heard people claim that healthcare sucks in other countries. Sure, maybe in Bangladesh things are rocky, but a quick Google search yieled some interesting stats when it comes to comparing our system with those of other developed nations - the U.S. ranks LAST out of 7 countries' healthcare systems when it comes to what we pay, access to care and the quality of care. We pay double what other countries pay and receive less quality care. So much for letting the market take care of itself, right?

There's always the other side, of course. More of my research found that the U.S. is superior than other nations in some ways: cancer screenings, cancer survival rates, better access to chronic disease treatment, less wait times and better access to new technologies.

Doesn't it make sense that we'd see lower rates of chronic and terminal illnesses if more of our citizens took part in preventative care? Seems like common sense to me. Given the trade off, I'd take longer wait times and older technologies if it meant that more of our population was covered so that more of us could actually take care of ourselves and get check-ups before certain diseases occur or get worse. And more people covered means a healthier population overall - i.e. less healthcare costs for everyone.

So I wish people would stop blaming healthcare reform (which some idiot judge ruled unconstitutional recently) and stop pooh-poohing other countries' systems. This shouldn't be such a partisan issue - we all want quality, affordable healthcare. And if we don't get it, then maybe I'll follow in Sarah Palin's footsteps and head to Canada to get the job done (true story: her family actually did this).

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