Monday, March 22, 2010

Health care bill the answer? Or, the view from my bed

Monday, March 22, 2010
Health care reform. A controversial topic indeed. Not one I usually address here but one of my New Year's "smack-downs", as my sister affectionately (or not!) termed resolutions this year, is to be more personal here. To be more me. Perhaps that explains my quiet the last couple months when I had so grandly announced blog changes.

When dealing with health issues and the social networking world, there are a couple of different ways to go about it. Put it all out there to read - good, bad, ugly. Hint at it til someone drags it out of you. Or retreat. I have always retreated. This has caused many misunderstandings and lost online friendships because I have had my share of health issues over the past dozen years. I just don't want to be known as that girl who whines all the time or, worse, perhaps faking it as has been found out to be about online people who were just looking for... what exactly... money? Or, more likely, the attention. Trust me, I whine enough at home. Just ask my husband. Email me for his email address. He'll tell you all about it.

And so I've been quiet. Everything has healed fine according to my doctor. I still have a persistent nagging backache - 24/7. And I weigh 99 pounds at 5'8". This was one of the issues to begin with and hasn't gone anywhere. But I'm tired of seeing doctors and being prodded. And finding out that one of my specialist referrals expired two years ago but nobody said anything so we've been throwing money away for two years paying out of network costs.

And this past year I have dealt with doctors, hospitals, and insurance more than I care to. I look at the original bill for just my surgery - more than $27,000 - and I look not just at what the insurance pays but what they also call their contractual adjustment. In other words, the hospital can't charge me certain amounts just because I have insurance with Blue Cross. And my bill comes out to $481. How can uninsured people afford to have even small surgeries like my own? That's the cost of a small house for some people. And we're not even talking about the $9,000 that the surgeon wants in a separate bill! (Or the many tests, procedures, PCP and specialist visits before that.) I'm also fighting with my local hospital because they charged me 20% upfront at OUT OF NETWORK costs before they would even perform routine cat scans and labwork. Like a dummy I paid it and now I find that they charged 3 times too much. I'm trying to get a refund with my insurance company's help but the hospital (which also runs our local doctor office/clinic) keeps coming up with other charges (disallowed by my insurance) so they can keep every penny of it.

I'm certainly not saying this health reform is the answer. But the system as we know it is definitely broken. Instead of blindly ignoring it, at least it's a step towards a solution.

No, I'm not a Democrat. (What am I exactly? Concerned.) Yes, I get asked that by family members every time I disagree with the popular public opinion in our area - which is predominantly Republican white males. Like my dad. And my brother. And my sister.


Anonymous said...

I know the insurance system is broken ... but I have to say I am scared of what this new bill means. I think it is going to impact a lot more than just our 'health care'. But you are right ... changes needed to be made. I am glad your surgery went well though ... I hope the back ache gets better.

Chad Martin said...

Ok, sister.... I am not necessarily a republican. I too am concerned. I believe that the healthcare bill is at best sloppy. You can't blame Obama or the rest of our government for trying to come up with a solution to provide our nation with healthcare. However, I feel like it is going to create a bigger problem in the long run than it fixes. I recently had the opportunity to research the healthcare bill. The thing that cannot be predicted is that, it is speculated that 1/3 of the physicians and doctors who practice are going to go into early retirement because of this bill affecting how much they will be able to make. Second, we are adding more individuals who will go to the doctor. So I anticipate seeing long waiting lines and waiting lists for needed surgeries. And once again, the doctors will choose those with private insurances before they will choose someone that is on government "insurance". I know that they are doing the best they can to provide healthcare for all but there are too many factors that they have not taken into consideration. Love ya sis! =)

Francie Horton said...

Melanie, I know what you mean. Even if I were an "expert" on this topic I'm sure there are things in the mandate that we little people never get to see. Plus the deals that were made to secure the votes needed. And various other problems that will arise that we can't even foresee.

I'm happy that we've acknowledged that we have a problem. After all, getting over denial is the first step, isn't it? ;)

And thank you for the well wishes. I appreciate them very much.

Francie Horton said...

Chad, since we just talked on the phone I won't go back over it all. :P

Love you, too, and I am glad to know you don't vote a straight ticket. :D

Marie S said...

My husband had cancer and even with insurance we are still paying and just when we seem to be seeing a light at the end of the tunnel he has to go back in for more tests. So back in the hole we go.
I understand.
We may be paying for the rest of our lives.
They also sent a notice that they are going to raise the monthlies $500, they don't tell you that you should not use your insurance because then they will raise your rates.
Remember though, stess does not help healing.

I am glad you posted, it is so nice to hear from you.
Sending healing thoughts and prayers your way!

Anonymous said...

"I'm certainly not saying this health reform is the answer. But the system as we know it is definitely broken. Instead of blindly ignoring it, at least it's a step towards a solution."