I thought this was an interesting read: a fairly straightforward-sounding Q&A session with five doctors about (among other things) the state of their profession.
The health-care debate is something I know very, very little about, so I generally refrain from commenting. (And don’t worry, that’s not what the article is really about, although one can’t get through the article without getting the strong impression that there’s a lot that’s horribly screwed up about our medical system.) But the doctors’ comments towards the very end of the article about the prospect of universal health care caught my interest, because they echo what a doctor friend of ours has mentioned once or twice: that a very great deal of money and interest in the current American system is focused on helping people with extremely serious health problems of the sort that other health-care systems might (reasonably?) write off as terminal. That’s great if you’ve got such a problem and have access to good insurance; I know of more than one person in my circle of family and friends whose life has been literally saved by this system, no doubt at hugely disproportionate cost to the health-care/insurance system as a whole. But is that the best way to do things from the perspective of broader society? Probably not, but who knows? I sure don’t, so I’ll just stop talking for now.by
I have heard that the U.S. health care industry spends enormous amounts of money on administrative costs compared to nations with a single-payer system, and my personal speculation (and complaint about my insurance company) is that they spend much of those administrative costs trying to deny people’s claims (Jon works with insurance companies and this was his idea). I never had any problems with my health insurance companies until I actually had to go to the doctor a lot – starting with prenatal visits, childbirth, and then Molly’s well baby visits. We pay thousands of dollars a year for the most comprehensive plan Jon’s company offers (and his company undoubtedly pays thousands of dollars more) and our insurance has still randomly denied our claims and made us jump through all sorts of hoops for basic things that they should cover, like tests when I was in the hospital during childbirth or Molly’s flu shot. Our coverage has otherwise been wonderful and it is doubtless that other people with serious health problems have benefitted from their insurance coverage, but I’d be much happier if my insurance company was as concerned with, you know, my health, as it was with employing people whose main concern is trying to get out of paying what they’ve agreed to pay. Okay, rant over. 🙂
I know what you mean, Kim. This is a topic that’s got Michele and I interested/concerned lately with the baby on the way; we have very good health insurance, but are aware that baby-related medical costs are going to add up regardless. I have only a marginal understanding of medical insurance now; I’m sure dealing with them regarding all the baby stuff is going to drive me mad. And I’ll echo your last sentence about insurance companies! It would be nice to sense that they were supporting and watching out for us, rather than watching for gaps in our coverage to be exploited.
But I should say that we have had almost no bad issues with our insurance to date, so I don’t want to bash them before actually seeing how they work with us regarding the baby stuff.