I recently blogged about my experience with my health insurance company. Today I got a bill from my physician on the same doctor visit that resulted in the previous post, and for the first time, I really paid attention to the bill. It’s not that I’ve never looked at my bills before with an eye towards the details — I’m always very careful with anything that concerns money. Rather, I’ve never really looked at my medical bills beyond the numbers and the math.
Without going into the nitty-gritty of the bill, let me try to spell out what is on it:
- Total charges: $229.25
- Insurance disallowed amount: $181.57
- Insurance payment: $46.43
- Patient’s balance: $1.25
Notice that because I have insurance, my balance for this doctor’s visit amounts to $1.25. And notice my expense is low NOT because my insurance company covers the rest of the expense, but because the total charges allowed on my bill was $47.68 instead of $229.25 as originally charged. In other words, my physician was not allowed to charge me more than the contracted amount agreed upon with the insurance company. BUT if I were to be one of the uninsured, then my physician can demand that I pay the full amount charged.
So, as you can see, the uninsured in this country suffer double whammy! First, they don’t have insurance companies to help cover some of their medical expenses. But even MORE IMPORTANT than that, they don’t have the insurance companies to help negotiate better rates for their medical expenses. And THAT, ladies and gentlemen, is the problem with the health care system in the United States of America!
Now, I am no politician, but to me that seems like a much simpler fix. Forget about universal health care for a moment, how about just pass a law to create a governing body that sets the prices for the medical treatments in this country? This will ensure equal price for equal medical treatment for everybody and will go a long way towards preventing people from financial ruin when they are stricken with illness or suffer from unexpected health problems.
What do you think? Is my logic too simple and naive? Please leave your thoughts in the comment section. Thanks!