Monday, March 22, 2010

Health Care Helpings... Hey! My Bowl Is Empty

By Cal Orey, The Writing Gourmet
As a health author for more than two decades, you'd think I'd be elated and jumping for joy today as I sit and read the CNN report on the new, improved health care reform. But I'm not really happy about this change. In fact, this morning breakfast doesn't seem all that appealing. Maybe I'll go on a hunger strike. I'm hardly alone...

ONE--My Bowl Is Empty: Not only do I write about how to get and stay healthy but I am a no nonsense health conscious baby boomer who has been paying high premiums for 20 years. Each year the rates are raised higher and higher. And the thing that irks me is that I'm in "Healthy Tier 1" but I don't get a rebate. I just keep working harder and harder to pay more and more. So, here I sit feeling like a furry gerbil on one of those little roller toys in a cage and moving it around and around so I can have my bowl filled a little bit with health perks if I continue to keep it spinning. Whew! So, when do I get a health insurance break?

TWO--My Bowl Is Empty: Another glitch is that while this new health deal is in action, my health insurance company is most likely going to hike up premiums a whopping 39%. Note to self: Call today and find out if it's true. But, I'm sensing it is going to happen in May and that the phone will be busy all day and all week and all month. Now, I flunked math in grad school but I do know that's a lot of bucks that I'll be paying. So what's a health nut to do? I fall in the cracks like after an earthquake. (Read: I'm not rich, poor, sick, or old enough to be cradled by Uncle Sam).

THREE--My Bowl Is Empty: Part of me is thinking "I'll just work 24/7 and dish out close to $1000 each month." (Slight exaggeration.) And my deductible is nearly $8,000 before I'm covered for any "catastrophe"... But I've never had to use my insurance so maybe not all is lost--except cash.  I never have spent the night in a hospital (except when I was two when I had my tonsils out and my parents paid for that). And no diseases. Gosh, why am I working so hard to pay for so little? Why can't I have a rebate for maintaining healthy lifestyle habits?
It's back to self reliance for me. Now, where oh where is my copy of Henry Thoreau's works about how to survive and live the simple life in the woods? If I can hold out till 2014 (four more years) maybe my health insurance rates will go down a tad and I can afford a much needed vacation or a larger cage with a slower roller toy. -- Disgruntled Gerbil on a Roll to Keep Health Insurance


  1. Having been in the medical/healthcare business for the past 35+ years, with at least 17 of those years dealing with medical insurances; I am not a happy camper about this vote. I have seen, over time, how the medical insurance companies have dictated more and more to both providers and patients alike what they can and cannot do. On the patient side there are increasing co-pays, deductibles, co-insurance amounts and premiums which seemingly have no ceiling. On the provider side, medical insurance companies ask them to take less and less money for services rendered, every single year. I have seen where medical insurances dictate how long before they can receive a claim from a provider, yet take months and months to actually pay it, if at all! Two hospitals I have been affiliated with have stopped taking certain insurances because they would not honor written contacts regarding what they were supposed to pay. And now, certain states such as yours, and Illinois, face double digit premium increases which is simply ridiculous. Even though my career has been in healthcare, I have been without medical insurance for the past 2 years because either Cobra or an individual plan was just too expensive for me, plain and simple. For example, during the course of 3 years only, the very same Cobra went up $600 from the $831 I had been paying in 2005 for myself and my husband to $1460 in 2008! How is that justifiable? Congress missed the entire point. It's the medical insurance companies that should have been federally regulated. They line their pockets more and more with each passing day, yet refuse services for 3, 6, 9 months or more for pre-existing conditions or won't cover outright...and I dare say some of their money probably influenced those that voted. Also, what has student financial aid got to do with this healthcare vote, huh? Tacked on so that most wouldn't notice, perchance? Yep, I'm not a happy camper.

  2. I'm your northern neighbour in Canada, and I don't understand all the ins and outs of what the health care bill will mean for U.S. citizens, I would be horrified to have to deal with a medical insurance company of any kind. It was my understanding that Obama originally wanted government healthcare like England, Canada, France, Italy, etc. but had to appease those who wanted to stay with insurance companies. That's such a shame.

    Our health care is government run, and although not free of problems, I am grateful that I pay no premiums for my health care and I'm grateful for the wonderful health care I receive as a result. I go to the doctor's office and never have to worry about filling out forms, what I qualify for, what I don't, what I can be treated for, etc. I simply go, see my doctor, get treated, and come home. I won't ever lose my home if I get sick. And I pay a small premium every month for eyeglasses, prescriptions, and ambulance.

    So I hope your rates stay put and that all of you can enjoy good health care. I always shook my head in disbelief that such a great country like the U.S. wasn't taking care of their people.

  3. Mirella and Debbie...and others who are in my boat...
    Your comments have touched me. Debbie, you have shown me it can be worse. And Mirella, you remind me that moving to Canada is an option. I have traveled to both Eastern and Western provinces as well as have a dear friend in the middle.
    I know people will benefit from the reform...but as I noted in my heartfelt but a bit sarcastic blog post that boomers, like me, will continue to be the workhorses to stay in the health care system. And that makes my BP soar (I'm sure.) However, for now, I am healthy as a horse and am grateful. Plus, I've been taught for decades by holistic docs that we need to heal thyself and be self-reliant.
    -- The health author who may lose her health insurance

  4. Mirella,
    The US Is a great country precisely because our govt has not been created to "take care of their people" since the birth of our nation, our constitution states precisely that. The US breeds innovation, Edison, microsoft, ford to name a few. This is due to our freedoms and limited government. Self reliance builds greatness. We have not been created to expect a handout for anything. Who has the best hospitals in the WORLD? Why do people fly to America for medical care? This health care take over is not about "taking care of the uninsured" those people already have options for care. My aunt hasn't had insurance for 40 years an she has received medical care continuosly for years, surgeries, extended hospital care, hospice, you name it. Our hospitals cannot refuse care to anyone. Any legislation to help the uninsured as a target, would have addressed the corruption and waste in the programs that are already implemented. This bill is about control. The best way to control the American people is through govt run mandated healthcare. Now that they have that they can regulate every aspect of our lives. Absolutely everything can be controlled under the guise of "health". I'm glad you can walk in for a check up and go home the same day. But I know several canadians that have waited for up to 18 months for a simple surgical procedure.

  5. Karaleigh, you stated "our hospitals cannot refuse care to anyone". With all due respect, you are only partially correct. If it is a PUBLIC hospital that is subsidized by taxes and federal funds, then yes. Other than that, no, a hospital CAN refuse treatment. Did your aunt pay for her own medical treatment out of her own pocket? If so, she is very lucky and probably only part of less than 10% who can afford to do so. Or did she get services at a reduced rate because of some financial program? For instance, most hospitals have some kind of financial counselor that can make the patient aware of whatever assistance programs are available in that particular hospital. And they can all be different! But, unfortunately, in this day and age, most people would go bankrupt if they had to pay for even just a week's hospital stay. Again, often the costs are 'jacked up' because of the medical insurance companies paying less and less for procedures and services rendered. If something costs $100 to do and the insurance company pays the hospital $7 for it, how long before a hospital is operating in the 'red' if they are not allowed to bill the patient more than $20 in co-insurance? It's no wonder that so many hospitals are already operating in the 'red' and have closed some of their emergency rooms. Also, many people now use the emergency room as their family doctor rather than what it was intended for. Many have no insurance, nor intention to pay, either. There are many facets to healthcare that need to be addressed as you can see. And there's much more I could bring to your attention being an insider, as well. I've worked as a Financial Counselor, collected from insurance companies and patients, and have seen first hand what something costs vs. what is ultimately paid. Personally, I just feel Congress missed the boat in what their focus should have been. I do belive this isn't over yet. Mirella, my hubby and I have come up to Canada many times in the past to get his prescriptions and have been impressed with what little we have seen in your healthcare system (except maybe how long some people have to wait for surgeries). My brother also used to travel to Mexico to get his very expensive MS $5K per dose medications, as he couldn't afford it here...and he was an optometrist! Go figure!

  6. Hello again,
    I did call my ins. co. I was told I should keep my plan because I could be in an accident. I said,"I live my life like a healthy nun." The 20ish girl said I still could be in accident. Note, I felt like she was taking my phone psychic job which I have now at night so I can pay the premiums...Such is life...I wish I was 64 or 25 living at home so I could get in on the freebies. Oh well. Self-reliance is key as I've preached and practiced for years. Thank you my holistic doctor friends for teaching me well. You may have seen in your crytal balls that this day was coming.