FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Just How Good is Your Health Insurance?

by JEFF SHER

It’s been difficult to generate a groundswell of public opinion for real change in our deeply flawed health care system because most of the people who have medical insurance believe having insurance is equivalent to having guaranteed access to quality health care.

The insured may have empathy for the nearly 50 million uninsured in this country, but they seem to believe that the problems of the uninsured are not also their own problems.

Consider then the recently released study by a team of researchers from the Harvard Medical School. The researchers found that emergency room (ER) visits increased nearly 18 percent in the 10 years ending in 2004, while the number of hospitals operating ER’s fell 12 percent during the same decade.

The result is that patients wait longer now for treatment in emergency rooms. Waits for all types of treatments increased by 36 percent from 1997 to 2004, the researchers found. Heart attack patients waited eight minutes for treatment in 1997, but by 2004 they were waiting on average 20 minutes. One in four heart attack patients can expect to wait as long as 50 minutes or more before being treated.

This is yet another example of the deteriorating condition of our health care system. The ER problem affects patients whether they have insurance or not, no matter how “good” that insurance is.

And if you are admitted to the hospital, make sure you carefully check the bills the hospital sends you. It has been estimated by experts in the field that up to 80 percent of all hospital bills contain multiple errors. In fact, just checking the bill yourself very likely will not find all the errors.

There is a new and growing layer of the medical bureaucracy composed of billing specialists who will review your hospital bill for you and get paid either by the hour or as a percentage of the savings they generate for you by correcting the errors in the bill. Since hospital stays easily run in excess of $10,000 per day, even an insured patient’s share of a bill can mount up quickly. This is particularly true in the case of the high deductible plans that have become popular in recent years (as employers try to shift costs to employees).

Just add these issues to the growing list of obstacles to obtaining the health care you need, such as insurance company denials of coverage for treatment before the fact, denials of claims for reimbursement after the fact, difficulty in obtaining referrals to the appropriate specialists, not to mention the problems you may have obtaining insurance if you ever become unemployed or self-employed. Let’s put it this way: if you have any kind of chronic problem, or have had even a mildly serious problem in the recent past, you most likely will encounter difficulty obtaining a policy and you very likely will pay very high prices for it if you do get one. And if you have had a serious illness that has any chance of recurring or which studies show has even the slightest chance of rendering you more susceptible to other serious complications in the future (even the distant future), don’t expect to find insurance at all.

Almost everyone knows someone else who has encountered difficulties in obtaining the medical care they need, yet we persist in believing we have the “good” coverage.

Perhaps people who think like this should have their head examined. Except most likely they will find that kind of treatment is not covered by their insurance.

JEFF SHER lives in the Bay Area. He can be reached at: jeffsher@sbcglobal.net

 

 

 

 

More articles by:

Jeff Sher is a journalist specializing in the health care industry. He lives in San Francisco.

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

July 20, 2017
Sebastian Friedrich – Gabriel Kuhn
A New Class Politics
Patrick Cockburn
The Massacre of Mosul: More Than 40,000 Civilians Feared Dead
Paul Street
The Abandonment: Reflections on James Foreman’s “Locking Up Our Own”
Kim Codella
A Practical Education
Frank Scott
America’s Trump, Not Trump’s America
Louis Proyect
Clancy Sigal Goes Away
Don Monkerud
The Real Treason in DC: Turning Our Lives Over to Corporate
Brian Dew – Dean Baker
Are Amazon’s Shareholders Suckers?
Ralph Nader
Detecting What Unravels Our Society – Bottom-up and Top-down
Barbara Nimri Aziz
Covering Islam, Post-Jack Shaheen
Binoy Kampmark
Uhlmann’s Trump Problem
Patrick Walker
In Defense of Caitlin Johnstone
Barry Lando
Those Secret Putin-Trump Talks
Sean Marquis
Thank You, Donald Trump
July 19, 2017
Adam Ziemkowski and Rebekah Liebermann
How Seattle Voted to Tax the Rich
Patrick Cockburn
Why ISIS Fighters are Being Thrown Off Buildings in Mosul
John W. Whitehead
Zombies R Us: the Walking Dead of the American Police State
Mateo Pimentel
Net Neutrality’s Missing Persons
Adil E. Shamoo - Bonnie Bricker
Yemen Policy is Creating More Terrorists
L. Ali Khan
U.S. Misreads Pakistan’s Antifragility
David Macaray
Fear and Trembling in the Workplace
Brian Trautman, Gerry Condon and Samantha Ferguson
Veterans Call on U.S. to Sign Nuclear Ban Treaty
Binoy Kampmark
Militarising Civilian Life: Australia, Policing and Terrorism
Ricardo Vaz
Venezuelan Opposition “Consultation”: Playing Alone and Losing
Jesse Jackson
Trump’s Cold-Hearted Agenda is Immoral
Raul Castro
We will Continue to Advance Along the Path Freely Chosen by Our People
July 18, 2017
James Bovard
Obama’s AWOL Anti-War Protesters
Gary Leupp
CNN: “Russia is an Adversary, Ukraine is Not.”
Ryan Shah
Beware the Radical Center
John Carroll Md
Cold Hands Don’t Need Narcotics
Derrick Jensen
Endangered Species Don’t Need an Ark – They Need a Living Planet!
Kenneth Surin
Brief Impressions of the Canadian Conjucture
Arturo Lopez-Levy
Trump’s Cuba Restrictions: a Detour, Not the Future
Russell Mokhiber
State Street Bentley University Business Ethics and Corporate Crime
Laura Finley
Being Too Much
Robert J. Gould
What is Our Experience of our Flawed Democracy?
Taju Tijani
The Burden of Indivisible Nigeria
Guillaume Pitron
China Now Leads in Renewables
Ted Rall
How I Learned Courts are Off-Limits to the 99 Percent
Binoy Kampmark
Militarising Civilian Life: Australia, Policing and Terrorism
July 17, 2017
Gregory Wilpert
Time for the “International Left” to Take a Stand on Venezuela
Gary Leupp
Trump’s Embrace of the Saudi Crown Prince, and a Qatar Nightmare Scenario
Thomas Hon Wing Polin
Liu Xiaobo: the West’s Model Chinese
Terry Simons
Why I Did Not Go to Vietnam
Jim Green
Nuclear Power’s Annus Horribilus
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail