All eyes are on SCOTUS on Thursday as we wait to see the future of Obamacare. Regardless of the SCOTUS decision, the health care act does nothing to bring down health care costs. Nor do the rhetorical solutions brought forward by the current crop of elected talking bobble-heads (and the wannabees) who claim to be the end-all-cure-all in health care cost containment for the public and private sector.
As the debate has raged on, policymakers continue to ignore the fact that everyday people know where the issues lay, thereby further increasing citizen anger with the broken system. Instead, we were met with town hall meetings billed as ‘citizen’ led, framed to fit the intended legislative model with no regard to true cost containment. Now that the decision is near, let us take a moment for a quick review of two issues that continue to infuriate Americans about health care:
Pre-existing conditions: The greatest challenge facing Americans today, especially those who have been laid-off during the numerous rifs since the economic smack down hit, remains lack of coverage due to pre-existing conditions.
Currently, health care is portable from group-to-group plans but not group-to-private or private-to-group. If a person falls out of the group plan, they are left to their own devices if they have a pre-existing condition. This adds an additional cost burden to individuals who delay health care until hospitalization is needed thereby increasing the risk of medical bankruptcy along with provider cost increases in the event someone cannot afford their medical bill.
Though I agree with the inclusion of pre-existings in the health care plan, I disagree with implementation the time frame.
Skyrocketing health care costs: All other items covered in any health care legislation do not mean a darn thing if the cost of health care does not come down. From 1999 to 2009, health insurance premiums rose over 130%. Many have pointed to lack of technology, expensive marketing campaigns, CEO pay, etc. Yet no one is willing to discuss the nickel and diming the insurance companies face every day, nor is anyone willing to discuss that people are struggling to meet the out of pocket costs associated with their own health care plans.
Earlier this year, the LA Times ran an eye-opening article on the cost burden of hospitalization. While researching the story, the author discovered what all Americans who comparison shop for their health care already knows: inconsistent/non-existent standardized pricing models within the care providers' business models makes it impossible to plan for the cost of the procedure, be it out of pocket or insured. If pricing is available, a savvy health care shopper knows that tests provided by a hospital can be up to 7 times higher in comparison to the same test performed in an out-patient setting.
The insurance industry has picked up on this trend. In a limited market, Antem Blue Cross launched a new service to expedite comparison shopping for their members. When a member is referred for a MRI, CT scan, or other common imaging diagnostic, an Athem representative calls the member and provides a list of lowest cost options in their area. Anthem took the citizen research and discovered that the same test with the same quality results can start at $350 in an out-patient facility and quickly rise to $2000 if the test is performed in a hospital setting. Why is there such a disparity?
This is just a quick summary of the top two concerns for many Americans. However, the number one concern remains the cost of health care and we can no longer afford the same superficial Band-Aids that fail to address the root cause.
Once the decision is known and the parties gloat or mourn, our ‘leaders’ need to pull it together, kick all special interests out, and focus on getting Medicare costs in line and bringing the private sector back from brink of medical cost implosion.