A Centered View on Healthcare

Afraid of losing the ACA? It’s not a disaster.

I work in the pharmaceutical industry and help people with their insurance.  As the ACA passed, I saw premiums go up, sometimes more than doubling, I saw copays go up, I saw prices go up in general. Yes, it’s true, women had free contraceptives and free preventives.

I’ll tell you a secret. Those contraceptives and preventives were usually the ones you could buy for less than $30 a month without ANY insurance. If you think about how much more the premiums cost, though, you are easily paying for more than the value of the “free” items you are getting.

There are a few who were helped by the ACA, whose premiums were subsidized by the government. That means they were subsidized by your higher premiums, by the way. Meanwhile, millions of working families saw their insurance costs double, saw their deductibles skyrocket, and could no longer afford care – or much of anything else, for that matter.

I could tell you story after story about people who were making a several thousand dollars a month, had a good plan with fair copays and coverage, and saw their premiums go up by hundreds every month.  They didn’t get better coverage either.  Their cost increase came  with a corresponding loss of coverage!   Many of the examples I have seen were low income people, who had either a self funded plan or one they had through an employer, and lost with the ACA.

Before the ACA, I could have chosen to buy insurance.  Now I can longer afford good coverage. If I had an ACA plan, I could afford to learn what was wrong with me but couldn’t afford to fix it. The claim that millions now have insurance coverage who never did before, really means nothing if they aren’t substantively helped by it.

Free preventives? Most of them could be gotten for four dollars if you just use an in-house pharmacy discount plan. Without insurance, mind you. They’re available at several of the major pharmacies.  The people who drafted the ACA knew what they were doing – most people seem to turn their brains off when they see the word “Free.”

I will not be sad if ACA goes away. A single payer health care system isn’t the answer. Countries who have it tend to have long wait times and substandard care. There’s a reason why Canadians used to come to America for their medical care – even though they had a single payer, universal coverage healthcare system.

Except for in a few isolated situations, you’re better off exercising, watching  your diet, and avoiding high fructose corn syrup than shelling out money for an ACA health plan.  Meditate, learn about the medicine of food, and stay centered.

On the bright side, there’s no reason to fear the ACA being repealed.

via Daily Prompt: Center


What the media won’t tell you about health insurance


At work, I’ve been in the middle of this day in and day out, and I realized it was time somebody told everyone else just what’s going on in the US in regards to health insurance.

Not only are premiums going up as a direct result of the Unaffordable Healthcare Act, but deductibles are going up.  Where medical deductibles used to be separate from prescription ones, now they are being rolled in together.

I realize this is a little abstract so I’ll give you a specific example.

A fairly well off man called me the day before yesterday.  He is diabetic, and wanted to know how much his insulin was going to cost for a three month supply.  “I paid for the most expensive plan so it should be about what I had last year,” he said confidently.

As gently as I could, I explained that his new plan still had a $3000 deductible.  I asked him how much he was putting into his Health Savings Account, where you put pre-tax dollars to help offset your higher costs.  “$33 a paycheck…” was the answer.  Barely a drop in the bucket.  And why not?  He was paying the highest premium after all, several hundred dollars a month.

“So how much will my insulin be before my deductible is met?”

I explained that Lantus is about $450 a box even at the negotiated rate, and since he uses 3 boxes a month, he’d be paying almost $1500 for just the first month.  This is the kind of time I really hate my job.  I know that with that dosage he can’t just go off his insulin, yet despite the fact that he’s working for a major company and making a fair amount, there’s no way he could afford it.

Obviously, that call didn’t end well.

Stories just like this are happening across the US.  They happened last year, they’re getting worse this year.  Sure, people can get a certain short list of preventive medications.  And they can get a small amount of free testing.

But they can’t afford the treatment!

“The Doctors are going to be so angry”

I heard this heartbreaking statement recently, delivered between sobs, from a patient who was faced with possibly being without her antirejection medication. “They don’t just hand out livers,” she said.

In a very gentle voice that was filled with conviction, I told her “let’s not worry about what the doctors feel. Let’s worry about how YOU feel. What’s important here is your health, and your safety. I want to make sure you get the medication you need and one way or the other I’m going to do it.”

I wanted to cry. It was her life at stake and she was only thinking of her doctors’ opinions. It reminded me of the horrific fire that happened in Bellingham more than a decade ago, where two boys sparked an inferno by unknowingly lighting fireworks when there had been a fuel spill. One boy, in the intensive care unit and covered in burns, didn’t care about himself. He only wanted to know that his mom wouldn’t be mad.

When do the opinions of others become more important than our own safety and well being?

My own story had a happy ending, by the way. The patient got her medication, and I stayed on the line till it was confirmed that she’d gotten her next month’s supply and could pick it up today.