Monday, December 2, 2013

A Few Thoughts on Healthcare.

Thanks to an acquaintance on Facebook I now have the condensed version of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, AKA ObamaCare.  I say condensed because it is only 975 pages long and not the 2,000+ they talked about back in 2009.
Yesterday another FB friend shared a YouTube video that explained why we Americans pay so much more for healthcare than do other developed countries like the Commonwealth, or European Union states.  The video’s bottom line was the issue was complex, but in his opinion the most significant reason was we did not effectively negotiate with the providers for a better rate.  We as individuals are unable to negotiate, but the insurance companies don’t do a good job since they can pass costs along, the government, i.e. Medicare, does get a lower rate, but even those costs are above what other nations are willing to pay.
So I got to thinking about a couple of things and went looking in the PPACA to see how the Congress thought we could make health care affordable.  I will admit this is at best a simple approach, but I did a word search for “Affordable Care,”  “Cost Reduction,”  “Reducing Costs,”  “Managing Cost,” and “Simplified Billing.”  With the exception of finding a section on “Methods for Reducing Cost-Sharing” I found nothing, zip, nada, zilch, zero on how the Government intends to keep health care costs from skyrocketing under this law. I assume they will just keep premiums going up for those who are required to purchase one of the government approved plans, and the debt borrowing will increase to cover the difference.
Then there was a report on the local news about how complex and confusing hospital billing is.  I can certainly attest to that.  If you have a procedure you receive reams of paper explaining all the charges you are expected to pay for.  I remember auto insurance and homeowners insurance used to be that way.  Then Congress mandated simplified billing.  I wonder why the PPACA couldn’t find a paragraph or two’s worth of space in those 975 pages to mandate that hospital and medical charges be simplified to include a per/day room charge that included things like the linens and the meals.  Why each pill is individually billed seems at best a scam to support the high cost of care.  How are we to shop for the best costs if each hospital breaks up its charges differently?

Finally, I understand from the WH, the website is up and running and according to ABC news around 100,000 were able to sign up in Nov.  This means only 6.85 million are left to sign up in the next four months to meet the government requirement of 7 million enrollees.  I am sure once we get through Cyber Monday it will be smooth sailing.  Huzzah!

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