I suppose this could be a one word post and most people would be like, “Yup, sounds about right”. It’s one of the issues our country faces that can be summed up so simply, yet describe something so majorly wrong. And while I don’t typically express opinions publicly when it comes to politics, religion, or major issues, this one is a little different because I work in this industry and I see the impact that this problem has on every day people…
All you have to do is say the word and it can cause even the sweetest person you’ve ever met to start ranting on about the topic. And the purpose of my post isn’t to rant, or even propose a solution, but if I’m keeping these posts of mine as “diary” entries so to speak, then this is an issue of my time that I would like to document so that I can compare the time of today to the time of 10, 20, 30, 40 years from now.
The insurance companies…
Now I co-own an insurance agency that focuses on group health benefits. We work with companies that have 2 employees to ones that have over 100. At this current time we don’t have any clients with over 100, but we have some that are close. As independent agents, we work with various insurance carriers to ensure we can find the best possible fit for a group when it comes to benefits and of course, cost. I often times get to hear about how much insurance companies are scamming people by over charging for insurance. Many people talk about how evil the insurance companies are, and don’t even think about the protection that these companies are providing to them. Yes, it can be very expensive, but would you rather have to file bankruptcy when something major occurs with your health and you can’t even begin to afford the bill?
I’m not saying the insurance carriers are angels by any means. I deal with carriers all the time that refuse to pay certain claims when they should be paying them, or at least a portion of them. Sometimes it takes a small battle to get a claim paid, but as an agent, it’s my job to assist clients in that battle. The reality is that they pay their premiums, and should be receiving coverage with no hassle whatsoever…but this isn’t a perfect world, and like many other things, sometimes you have to fight to get what your owed.
Back to the cost though, I do understand that there are plenty of people that literally don’t make enough money to cover the cost of their insurance, especially those with family coverage. Family coverage (coverage for you, a spouse, and at least one dependent) can be VERY expensive, and I honestly don’t know how some families afford it. I cringe when I see the premiums that some people pay. And most of these people are employees of one of our group clients, which means that the premium amount they are paying is after deducting the portion that the employer is paying. And even then it can still be outrageously costly! So what in the hell is the underlying issue?
There it is…the true answer to the problem. Why is it that health insurance carriers charge so much for coverage? Because the cost of healthcare itself is beyond expensive, and it’s only getting worse. Like any other company on the planet earth, if your losing money every year you won’t last. So insurance carriers have to develop a cost for the coverage they provide, based on a variety of factors, but two of the biggest ones would be healthcare costs, and the fact that they have to turn a profit at the end of the year if they want to be around for more years to come. In the end though, the ones making the real money are the healthcare providers.
If you are sick, in pain, possibly even at risk of dying, what’s the most you’d be willing to pay to feel better or just to quickly get to a hospital? Probably a lot more than you’d pay for anything else, and healthcare providers know that. Google for instance, how much it costs to be life flighted to a hospital. As of today anyway you will see an estimated range for a 52 mile trip (equivalent to about a one hour drive) between $12,000 and $25,000. That’s for the transport, which may likely not be covered by your insurance, which is why separate insurance exists for it. Imagine if you had to go further than 52 miles…And let’s look at national averages for some actual medical procedures/services:
MRI Scan: $2,600
Total Hip Replacement: $40,000
Knee Replacement: $50,000
Open Heart Surgery: $325,000
Heart Transplant: $1,300,000
Mesothelioma Treatment (Chemo, surgery, and radiation): Could average $11,500 per month
Brain Cancer Treatment: Over $100,000 in the first year
While people want to see better health insurance options, more specifically, affordable health insurance, I just don’t see anything truly getting better until the cost of healthcare services provided are somehow controlled. The government can step in and offer assistance to people on low income (like Obamacare) but that doesn’t fix the actual issue. And I hate to sound like a conspiracy theorist or other similar type, but I do find it curious as to why no cure for cancer yet exists. Look at all the money being made on it and what would happen if that financial stream came to a halt. I’m far from alone in that line of thinking.
In conclusion I do believe that there are certain treatments and procedures that do just cost a lot of money for a facility to provide, but over all I think it’s nothing more than a damn shame. In my line of work I’m able to see how much money people make from all different types of industries. As a requirement for many of our carriers, certain documentation is required that typically lists employees/owners salaries. I’ve yet to serve a group that has any individual making more than a well known doctor. In fact, such doctors make more money in one week than I do in one year. And while I do agree with doctors making good money, because they provide a very important service, I also believe there is a limit to what’s acceptable, especially when it’s hurting people who aren’t as fortunate. Thus we have via our current healthcare system, a large scale, LEGAL, scam.