Thursday, September 27, 2007

Living without health insurance...

I didn't post yesterday because my BIL ended up going to the Emergency Room last night. Unfortunately as a graduate student he does not have much money nor does he have health insurance. His medical insurance is going to student health on campus and then the hospital at the medical school.

Unfortunately he has been feeling terrible and there was nothing else to do but go to the ER. So we did. But we're not exactly sure what the bill will be. He had a ton of tests done including the urine test, ultrasound, and blood test. It might be an ulcer. The doctor referred him to a specialist.

Anyway because of his lack of real health insurance, DH and I covered him. We signed the responsibility form because my in-laws don't have the cash in US dollars and have to go home cash out their stocks and convert it to american dollars.

I wonder what the full bill will be. We just had to pay $1k, but I have a feeling that we'll end up paying substantially more. This insanity calls for reform, but most Americans would disagree.

Would you be willing to pay more taxes for a universilized system?


Boomie said...

Why did you pay his bill? If your BIL couldn't pay and can prove it, the hospital would make different arrangements or a reduction so that BIL could pay. Then you could have paid/loaned him the reduced fee to pay.
Your BIL should have been responsible for his own bill.
The ER however, did take care of him?

Living Almost Large said...

My in-laws will be paying when the bill comes in full. And it's mainly because BIL is a student still. They did make arrangements because he didn't have insurance.

Anonymous said...

Would I be willing to pay more taxes for universal health insurance? I'm not sure. I'm a strong advocate of people having the option and responsibility to deal with their private things privately--so, I'm inclined to say that citizens should buy health insurance if they want it and they don't get it through their employments, or pay on a fee basis. But on the other hand, health is a public issue as well, in that sick people can make more people sick and disturb the public order, so perhaps this isn't quite so private.

JoePolvino said...

More taxes to support universal health insurance? Absolutely not.

I think a big part of the problem is that hospitals and the medical service field in general is not influenced by free market pressures as are other industries. You don't see, for example, a hospital offering discounts on MRI's or urine tests. So they charge market price and the insurance companies simply pay it. So now when someone wants to pay cash, they are pretty much forced to pay the over-inflated price.

I'm also a firm believer that the government should focus on constitutional issues rather than get its hands in things like healthcare. Let the private sector react to the needs of the consumer; there will be more competition, lower prices, and higher quality because people paying for it themselves demand value.

Living Almost Large said...

Have you realized the rising costs of premiums and care in the US? That our free market system is costing more than socialized care?

That preventative measures cost less than waiting until and emergency arises to seek care? Where do you draw the line?

I think it's easy for many people to say let people pay for themselves, until they are in the boat of paying for themselves. Then suddenly they scream for the unfairness of it all.

I've always been a proponent of socialized healthcare. I believe there is a minimum quality of life people should have.

Anonymous said...

There should be a basic minimum standard. Right now, people do get turned away or don't even seek medical care because they can't afford it. Don't forget that pharmaceutial can insurance companies are making billionaires. And insurance companies reap profits while doing their best to deny legitimate claims.

People should watch Michael Moore's "Sicko" even if they disagree with him on other issues. It was a real eye-opener for me.

The film pointed out that we do pay taxes for important services like the police and fire deparment. Health care is just as important. How would you feel if your house is burning down but the fire department asks 'how are you paying for this?' before they try to save your house and anyone trapped in your house? Same for police. Same for medical care.

As for objections to government interference and bureaucracy, I know three people who are going back and forth with their insurance companies on legitimate claims right now. There is already bureaucracy in our current system but it's just up to individuals to fight it out against a major corporation.

Anonymous said...

oops. meant to write "Don't forget that pharmaceutial AND insurance companies are making billions."

JoePolvino said...

"Have you realized the rising costs of premiums and care in the US? That our free market system is costing more than socialized care?"

I think we need to look at the root causes of high medical costs, rather than just cave in and say something to the effect of, "Let's reduce the impact of those high prices by taxing everyone." Once the causes of the high costs are addressed, then paying your own way won't be as scary.

I'm Grace. said...

The New Yorker ran an interesting analysis of why the US healthcare system is funded the way it is--with results that should shame us.

Essentially, universal healthcare was championed by the wealthy in European and Scandinavian countries who felt that this was one area where government should take care of them (the wealthy). "Trickle Down Theory" actually worked, and eventually everyone assumed government should handle everyone's healthcare.

In the US, universal healthcare started in the working class, among union members. Unfortunately, it stayed stuck there even as union power, influence and membership declined.

Our healthcare system, if you can even call it that, is a national tragedy. If you're rich, or if you are unionized, you can get quality care. If not--

Living Almost Large said...

A lot of people work full time and still don't have medical coverage. How is that fair? I just don't understand how someone can work full time and not be covered? They are busting their tails to make ends meet yet are unable to "provide" medical for their families? That's my basis for wanting universal coverage, even if I have to pay for it.

Don't get me wrong a lot of people abuse the system too, but there are many more trying their best.

Anonymous said...

Wow, I'm from Australia, where if you need to go to the ER, you just go. There is no charge. If your illness is not acute (eg you don't need immediate surgery because the condition is stable or not lethal), you go on a waiting list, but this is usually no big deal if you don't mind waiting through your symptoms (eg at least you aren't going to die because you can't afford to go to the ER).
Most people with money tend to buy private health insurance so they can get any problem fixed quickly. However, even private health insurance is regulated so that everybody pays the same amount - there is no extra charge because you already have a cardiac condition or HIV when you join. However, there is a lead-in time before you get coverage for certain conditions (eg pregnancy coverage takes 10 months I think). The biggest thing that stops people flooding the ER is that when you arrive you are assessed by a nurse, and if you don't have a severe problem, you'll wait for a few hours to see a doctor. It just seems so risky that people in the US have to make a judgement call about their symptoms, when often a lay person has no idea which are the symptoms you can't ignore, and which are the ones that won't kill you. And having to worry about the number of tests that were ordered is even worse.

Anonymous said...

I *absolutely* don't want to be rude, but your brother in law had to sign something that he had valid health care coverage in order to enroll in grad school in the states or pay for school coverage (that works outside the school system) through the school. Schools require verification of outside insurance through an opt-out, not opt-in form in order to get insurance taken off your insurance bill. If he doesn't have insurance as a grad student, it's because he did something wrong.

Living Almost Large said...

Anonymous my BIL has health insurance if you can call it that from the school. What is this insurance? They pay if you are on campus. If you are off campus you have to drive there if you are within 100 miles.

If you are farther than 100 miles away then you are out of network and not necessarily covered. So yes he has coverage, trust me he was considering hopping on the next plane to make sure he was covered.

It's the same coverage I and most graduate student have.