She’s vaguely back-peddling now saying she wishes me well but completely missing the point that her statement was not only absurd but heartless. As such, her comments WERE idiotic. In a fantasy world, it shouldn’t cost so much for any medical treatment. I know that doctors and hospitals charge that much simply because they get so little back from the insurance company. The system is hopeless bloated and ineffective as a result. Um, duh. That’s not in dispute.
But what SHE doesn’t seem to understand is that wishing it were more reasonable is not the same as being faced with needing obscene amounts of money to get the treatments and surgery needed. And the bullshit idea of paying it in cash misses the reality of how utterly and completely impossible that actually is. (Not to mention, she’s opposed to government oversight and regulation of the healthcare industry, saying such presence has made things worse rather than better. Really? You think without any government regulation the insurance companies would simply STOP overcharging and STOP focusing on their profits out of the good of their hearts? Of course not! And that is a major failing of people who think we should let the corporations or “market” decide these things: they will ALWAYS decide in the name of their stock value and profit margins; NOT for the welfare of the people they insure.)
As a cash-paying patient, you have some wiggle room (with SOME providers) on discussing fees but NOWHERE NEAR the power of the insurance companies. On a $1,000 bill, the insurance company might immediately take off $900 in “negotiated rates” right off the top, then pay $35 and leave the person with a $65 co-pay portion. So the final total amount on the $1k might be only $100. As an individual however they will in no way, shape or form accept $100 on the $1,000 service. If you’re lucky, they’ll take $100-$200 off which still leaves an unreasonably large amount to pay out-of-pocket. Times that by a dozen or more separate providers for one stay in the ER and you have impossible medical bills that are the cause of 75,000 Americans each and every year.
I have long said I wish we got even MORE reform done. I would love a single-payer system. (And yes, RUN by the government like any other civilized country.) I don’t expect it to be free anymore than I expect my roads, schools or fire department to be free. I expect we ALL chip in via taxes to provide resources and structure that otherwise cannot be created by individuals. It’s the “United” part in our country’s name. But, knowing how hard of a fight it’s been even for the changes we got, I understand this is merely winning a battle, not victory in a war. But we’ll never get ANYWHERE if we don’t start making changes.
Ensuring coverage for the vast majority of our citizens is a start. Providing more consumer protections with health care is positive momentum. And allowing for expansion of programs to assist in those who otherwise fall out of qualifying range – such as myself! – is a long-overdue help to many in need. And all of this, and more, is part of the Affordable Care Act.
Many people opposed to it may want everything now, but the government does not now, nor never has worked that way. And holding your breath until you get your way doesn’t win you any accolades. And right here and right now the changes that HAVE been made do positively impact millions of “between the cracks” Americans.
I shared my story because too few people not directly involved in a health care crisis realize how bad it is out there without insurance or access to medical care. They think there are all these programs and safety nets and that you’ll just get the care you need regardless of your ability to pay. NONE OF THAT IS TRUE.
So while you can knock the ACA and the benefits it brings simply because it’s not all rainbows and kittens, the reality is, it’s a LOT for a LOT of Americans who need help now. Not imaginary, potential possibilities of an overhauled system in some vague future, but rights and protections and access to care like anyone else NOW.
And that is progress.