That Dirty Word – HEALTHCARE

It is an issue that can clear a room faster than talking about death, religion, or technology. What topic am I referring to? Healthcare. To some, just the thought of the managed healthcare industry sends shivers up people’s spines.

To be honest I don’t blame them. You never hear any definitive plan to really

credit to Steven Brill from his free downloadable book
credit to Steven Brill from his free downloadable book

make a difference. Obamacare has become more of the name of a syndrome, than a health care philosophy. If you ask a lot of people about it, I doubt they could tell you more than a few simple facts about it.

Healthcare’s Hidden Strategy

Healthcare management is accepted as a nebulous area of faceless executives, mountains of ever changing legal jargon and the cruel acceptance that misery and chaos are all it will ever be. I have a technical term for this acceptance. My term:    “Nonsense”

They have a strategy. It may appear like just industry structure, but it is no different than any large mega billion dollar industry with controversy. I liken it to the oil industry and the banking industry, each with their own set of lobbyists, and endless coincidences that seem to benefit them when under legislative or judicial scrutiny. An example of this is the way gas prices drop mysteriously and precipitously around election time. Just coincidence I am sure.

The Healthcare industry uses the nebulous nature of mindless faceless managed care goliaths to disguise something that really should be illegal. Basically, they are monopolies.

Medical Monopolies

The majority of hospitals, doctors, and healthcare services are linked to a handful of managed care organizations. And this trend continues as more and more consolidation takes place. And what is shocking is you hear the same garbage based arguments from these managed care organizations as you used to hear from other monopolies. Here are some of the arguments I hear:

  • consolidation reduces premiums
  • consolidation helps the economy

Oh and by the way 2 +2 = 5. Consolidation did not help bring fair pricing to big oil. Consolidation did not bring innovation or low prices to the telecommunications industry before the break up of Ma Bell. But we are supposed to believe that this medical oligarchy is benefiting your economy. I have a strong intuition that competition might work wonders for the skyrocketing cost of healthcare.

It still remains to be seen as to whether the Republicans and the Trump Administration can devise a healthcare plan for America that will take some of the profits out of the pockets of the insurance industry in order to keep health care affordable for the common man.  So far, Congress cannot even come together to label Obamacare as the failure that it is and put party differences aside in order to serve the American people that elected them.  This is truly a sad commentary on the dysfunction or our federal government.


“Watch Out… The Cadillac Tax is Coming”

Healthcare costs have been a continuing issue felt by Americans from all walks of life throughout the nation. With the Affordable Care Act, this has only gotten worse, especially for the middle class. Now, the Cadillac Tax is planned to begin in 2018 and I fear it will only hit my family, friends, and peers harder. I know I have firsthand experienced the burden of the ACA as of recently when my employer had to change my healthcare plan and I do not have the same safety net I previously did. I am fortunate that my spouse and I have been in good health currently, but my neighbor Kevin has not been so lucky.

My neighbor’s recent life has been one calamitous event after another. The worst of these events was his wife’s diagnosis of chronic kidney disease. We were catching up, with sweating glasses of iced tea in hand, sitting on my porch while we watched workers remove a tree that had recently fallen onto his property after a recent storm. This was just another accident in his series of unfortunate events, but he did express great gratitude for the reasonably priced professional company,, that agreed to work with him on his “tree care issue”.  Why can’t “healthcare” be just that, professional and reasonably priced? Continue reading “Watch Out… The Cadillac Tax is Coming”

The Invisible Fees Hitting Our Community’s Cancer Patients

The good Samaritan syndrome, strangers helping strangers
The good Samaritan syndrome, strangers helping strangers

I just cannot shake the high cost of health care from my list of worries.  And that being said, it has come to my attention that patients and families of patients battling cancer have turned to “crowdfunding” (Click here)as a source of funding for medical bills,  Modern technology has brought a great opportunity to people having difficulties paying for their medical expenses while battling cancer. Some of these expenses include, but are not limited to, travel costs for treatment, chemotherapy, radiation, vitamins, wigs, various medications, the cost of missing an expanded period of work, childcare, doctors appointments, family/living expenses, caregiving expenses, potential legal issues, etc. In theory, Obamacare makes it so insurance companies cannot opt of covering preexisting conditions, but it’s the hidden fees and invisible costs that get to the pockets of patients and their families.

My family, in particular, learned this when my mother was diagnosed with colon cancer and breast cancer within three months of each other. My mother, in her mid 50’s is our primary source of family income. My younger sister and I are her only two children. As a teacher, we were very lucky that she had enough sick days to cover her year out of work. She also had great health insurance that covered a majority of her treatment. Yet, having some of the best treatment coverage one could possibly have still was not enough for us. The co-payments for her daily and weekly treatments added up quickly. The 40 minutes to an hour of driving per visit to her oncologist, surgeon, and various other doctors she had to see, took up a lot of gas.

The care that she received at New York Oncology Hematology in Rexford and Ellis Hospital in Schenectady was top notch. I saw this with my own eyes the one day I could get off of work to take her to a chemotherapy session. This particular day she experienced an unexpected allergic reaction. As I ran to get the nurse, watching my mother’s face turn a deep shade of red under her scarfed head, the nurses had her taken care of as soon as the words “My mother needs help” slipped from my mouth. I am not denying in my argument that healthcare workers deserve anything less than what they are being paid.  In order to save the patients money. I am, however, arguing that there should be more done for the invisible expenses cancer patients face. Continue reading The Invisible Fees Hitting Our Community’s Cancer Patients