FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

Just How Good is Your Health Insurance?

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.

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550
April 07, 2020
Joel McCleary – Mark Medish
Paradigm Shift by Pandemic
Matt Smith
Amazon Retaliation: Workers Striking Back
Kenneth Surin
What The President Said (About The Plague)
Patrick Cockburn
The Chaotic Government Response to COVID-19 Resembles the Failures of 1914
Marshall Auerback
The Coronavirus Pandemic Has Opened the Curtains on the World’s Next Economic Model
Vijay Prashad, Paola Estrada, Ana Maldonado, and Zoe PC
Trump Sends Gun Boats to Venezuela While the World Partners to Fight a Deadly Pandemic
Jeremy Lent
Coronavirus Spells the End of the Neoliberal Era. What’s Next?
Dean Baker
The Big Hit: COVID-19 and the Economy
Nino Pagliccia
A Simple Democratic Transition Framework for Venezuela: End All “Sanctions”
Colin Todhunter
Locked Down and Locking in the New Global Order
Robert Fisk
Biden Says He ‘Doesn’t Have Enough Information’ on Iran to Have a Vew. How Odd, He Negotiated the Nuclear Deal
Wim Laven
GOP’s Achievement is Now on Display
Binoy Kampmark
Boastful Pay Cuts: the Coronavirus Incentive
Dave Lindorff
It’s Spring and I’ve Turned 71 in a Pandemic-Induced Recession
Steve Brown
FLASH! Trump Just Endorsed Bernie’s Medicare-For-All Health Plan
Marc Haggerty
Class and COVID-19: Those Who Can and Those Who Can’t
Manuel García, Jr.
A Reply to Jeffrey St. Clair’s “Strange Things Happening Every Day”
George Wuerthner
How Fuel Breaks Fuel Fires
Marshall Sahlins
Election 2020
April 06, 2020
Richard D. Wolff
COVID-19 and the Failures of Capitalism
W. T. Whitney
Donald Trump, Capitalism, and Letting Them Die
Cesar Chelala
Cuba’s Promising Approach to Cancer
David A. Schultz
Camus and Kübler-Ross in a Time of COVID-19 and Trump
Nomi Prins 
Wall Street Wins, Again: Bailouts in the Time of Coronavirus
Dean Baker
Getting to Medicare-for-All, Eventually
Dave Lindorff
Neither Pandemic Nor Economic Collapse is Going to Be a Short-Lived Crisis
Sonali Kolhatkar
Capitalism in America Has Dropped the Mask: Its Face is Cruel and Selfish
Ralph Nader
Trump’s 7 Pro-Contagion Reversals Increase the Coronavirus Toll
David Swanson
A Department of Actual Defense in a Time of Coronavirus
Ellen Brown
Was the Fed Just Nationalized?
Jeff Birkenstein
Postcards From Trump
Nick Licata
Authoritarian Leaders Rejected the Danger of a COVID-19 Pandemic Because It Challenged Their Image
Kathy Kelly
“He’s Got Eight Numbers, Just Like Everybody Else”
Graham Peebles
Change Love and the Need for Unity
Kim C. Domenico
Can We Transform Fear to Strength In A Time of Pandemic?
Mike Garrity
Alliance for the Wild Rockies Files Lawsuit to Stop Logging and Burning Project in Rocky Mountain Front Inventoried Roadless Area
Stephen Cooper
“The Soul Syndicate members dem, dem are all icons”: an Interview with Tony Chin
Weekend Edition
April 03, 2020
Friday - Sunday
Omar Shaban
Gaza’s New Conflict: COVID-19
Rob Urie
Work, Crisis and Pandemic
John Whitlow
Slumlord Capitalism v. Global Pandemic
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Strange Things Happening Every Day
Jonathan Cook
The Bigger Picture is Hiding Behind a Virus
Paul Street
Silver Linings Amidst the Capitalist Coronavirus Crisis
Evaggelos Vallianatos
The Control of Nature
Louis Proyect
COVID-19 and the “Just-in-Time” Supply Chain: Why Hospitals Ran Out of Ventilators and Grocery Stores Ran Out of Toilet Paper
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail