Healthcare Profits, We Suffer

Back in January my husband received a letter from the healthcare company that covers his employer. Not a big deal, we get these letters all the time, usually they are statements of what’s been paid out for our various healthcare needs. This one was different. This one told us that some changes were coming to the plan. That we would be responsible for more out of pocket costs going forward.

In retrospect, we should have paid more attention. Yesterday, my husband broke the rest of the story to me. The jist of it is that our copay costs for everything other than visiting our respective primary care doctors are going sky high. $100 to visit a specialist. $50 to visit the ER or an urgent care facility.  Plus our yearly deductible went up. Oh boy!

The rising costs associated with healthcare come from people like us, apparently. Because we need to monitor conditions and use medications it costs the plan more to cope with us. Add in more people who now have healthcare plans because of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), and healthcare companies, worried about their own bottom lines, are scrambling to put more onus on the people they cover.

Our healthcare company went from a non-profit to a profit making entity back in 2012. As soon as that happened I knew costs would rise. As soon as you put the bottom line before the well-being of humans you set up trouble. Generating profit in healthcare should be an oxymoron. But in the United States, it isn’t. Its just business as usual.

The company that covers my husband and myself is looking at people like us who need more medical intervention for long term care and at people who regularly use ER’s/Urgent Care and saying ‘go to your PCP’. Most of us do, but we also need specialists and the ER or urgent care clinics for things like flu, broken bones, back spasms, etc. Plus getting an appointment to see your PCP can be problematic. Call the physician group that my husband and I use and try to get an appointment with his PCP – the waiting time can be up to a month or more because he cannot go during working hours, and his PCP does not have many hours outside of his work schedule. The specialist he sees for an ongoing condition does have more hours outside his work schedule. Its easier to see the specialist than the PCP.

We need to run numbers in our budget and see how much our costs out of pocket are going up. I suspect a lot. Last year our doctor visits totaled about $300 in copays. This year it might be as high as $1000 or more. Ouch!  Our budget is strained as is. Do we cut back on healthcare? Can we?

The answer for many Americans is going to be cut back. And get sicker. Healthcare should not be a business that looks to its bottom line. It should be easier to go see whatever doctor you need. And it should not be a strain on the budget to do so.

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