Whenever an election is approaching, politicians talk about America’s “looming health care crisis” as if they actually plan to do something about it if and when they are elected. Experts who study the cost of health care say it is one of the most serious problems the country faces in terms of cost and quality of care.
Who Provides Health Insurance?
Federal, state and local governments insure 39 million workers (including military), 39 million Medicare recipients (a number destined to increase as the first baby-boomers turn 65), and 41 million on Medicaid. Of course, governments do not generate any revenue themselves. It all comes from one place: taxpayers. With an average of 7 health insurance and pharmaceutical lobbyists for each Congressman, it’s easy to understand why legislators drag their feet when it comes to improving health care for their constituents. (Anyway, they all get free health insurance for life. They’re probably saying “What’s the big deal?”)
Employers offer health insurance to 120 million Americans. Those who choose to accept the insurance have hundreds of dollars a month deducted from their paychecks as their share of the premium their employers pay to health insurance providers. In 2005, the average worker paid over $2700 for his or her share of group insurance provided through an employer. That doesn’t include annual deductibles and co-pays for visits to doctors, prescriptions, hospital stays, surgeries, and so forth. The National Coalition on Health Care reports that employee’s insurance premiums increased by 73% from 2000-2005. Compare that to a cumulative inflation rate over the same period of 14%, and a cumulative wage boost of 15%. Obviously, that 1% difference doesn’t come anywhere near meeting the 73% premium increase.
Of course, the employers’ share of premiums is increasing too. In fact, the NCHC web site relates this troubling information: “Health insurance expenses are the fastest-growing cost component for employers. Unless something changes dramatically, health insurance costs will overtake profits by 2008.” Since the whole point of being in business is to make a profit, employers have some choices: (1) pass part of the additional premium on to employees; (2) pay new employees less and give smaller raises to others; (3) charge more for their products and services, and/or (4) stop offering employees health insurance all together.
Even if you get your insurance through an employer, you have to be very careful that you read and understand the fine print. Don’t see a doctor without prior authorization. Don’t see one out of the “network” without expecting to pay a good portion of the doctor’s fee yourself. Do you need to go to a hospital? Let’s hope you’re conscious and thinking straight, because you may need to call the health insurance company from the car or the ambulance to get their OK. We’ve all heard the horror stories of people who rushed someone to the “wrong” hospital in an emergency and were denied coverage by the insurance company because it didn’t have “an agreement” with that particular hospital.
What about “the uninsured”?
You might be thinking there must be “some program” to help the uninsured. The fact is that if you have an income, you don’t qualify for a “program.” Even if you’re a single mom making only minimum wage, you can’t qualify for Medicaid. People without insurance who do see a doctor often can’t fill their prescriptions, or they take less than the amount prescribed. When they get sick, they simply hope to get better, and often the condition spirals into something more serious and more expensive to treat. That’s where the emergency room comes in. The costs for the slightest problem are mind-boggling-over a thousand dollars to stitch up a cut, for instance. The hospital will try to collect. If you can’t pay, your credit rating could be affected.
In October of 2006, over 46 million Americans had no health insurance. Eighty percent of these are working people and their dependents. Some work for an employer who offers no insurance plan, or they make so little they cannot afford to buy into the program. Many are self-employed, and feel they simply cannot afford the unreasonably high premiums for individual insurance, or they have pre-existing conditions and the only policies they can get exclude those.
What You Can Do
1. Make a Choice.
The health insurance crisis is a real and growing problem. You can choose to believe that the government or your employer will cover increasing costs or not hit you too hard for your share of the premium, or you can choose to go uninsured and hope that you and your family will stay well. It is not an issue where you can take an ostrich attitude and put your head in the sand. You need to make a choice.
2. Set Up an Emergency Account
Many uninsured workers have made the choice to take control of the problem themselves by setting up their own medical savings accounts. Instead of paying $600-$1200 a month in individual-policy insurance premiums, they choose to deposit the money in an interest-bearing account, CD, or other “sure money” account. The funds are their own, whether they are needed or not.
3. Find a Way to Fund It Health Care MOM
If you decide to set up a medical savings account, you’ll want to deposit as much money as you can as quickly as possible so it can go to work for you making interest. Even if you work for an outside employer and have group health insurance, that extra money in your medical savings account will give you the security of knowing that you’ll be able to meet deductibles, co-pays, and other expenses your policy deems “not covered.” Many have discovered that a great way to do this is to open a home-based business. You can work your own hours and be your own boss as you accumulate your medical-savings nest egg. You just may find that you can also open another account-one you might label “things we’ve always wanted” or “savings for trips.” A home-based business may very well be your personal answer to the health care crisis. For additional free information, simply contact Dr. Sran.