Healthcare Costs

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I received good news yesterday from my orthopedist.  He was reviewing my MRI results from last week. The MRI was performed to look at the soft tissues in my right shoulder.  I carried a very heavy ladder overhead and then worked out hard for 2 weeks afterwards.  Oops.  Luckily, I just irritated the bicep tendons and other tissues in the shoulder.  No tears or pulls.  No surgery needed.  Just some TLC and careful workouts for the next month or so.

This all got me thinking.  I rarely use the healthcare system.  I’ve really only used it once before this shoulder problem.  I passed out in 2008, fell backwards, fractured my skull, received a severe concussion, split a vein at the base of my skull and more.  The original bill added up to over $120,000.  I think it went down a bit after incorrect billing was fixed and proper discounting took place.  It’s safe to say it was a very expensive hospital visit.

For my shoulder problem, I bet the total cost for my 2 doctor visits and the MRI visit was $4,000.  The MRI included an arthrogram (numb the shoulder, insert deep into the shoulder joint a needle and inject 2 different contract materials and review.)  From what I can tell, the MRI visit probably cost $3,500.  And it’s no wonder.  The MRI machine alone costs over $1.5MM and requires plenty of software and hardware maintenance.  Plus it requires a special building to house it.  Further, the people who use it have to be properly trained.  My 2 visits to the orthopedist probably cost $500.  Remember, they have an office to pay for, places to park, nurses, front desk personnel, doctor’s fees, technicians and more.  The doctor’s themselves have a lifetime of education debt. Plus, this is their business.  They want to make a little money.  Nothing wrong with that.  So, $500 doesn’t sound bad.

I paid a $100 in co-pays for those two visits.

I pay Aetna $225 per month for my medical insurance.  Not bad.  That’s $2,700 per year.  If Aetna had to pay $4,000 minus my co-pays, then they had to reimburse $3,900.  And they will have only collected $2,700 from me in 2010.  That means they will lose $1,200 on me this year.  Not good for Aetna.  And I’m a great health risk.  I don’t get sick.  And when I do, I eat soup and take aspirin.  I only go to see a doctor when absolutely necessary.  I have a high deductible ($5,000) so I have “skin in the game”.  Even with all that, Aetna loses with me this year.  How are these guys “bad”?  I will be more careful going forward.  The arthrogram was painful.  Plus, I don’t want to be injured or sick.  So, I will ensure Aetna does make money off of me.  It’s in theirs and my best interest that they do.  Most people I know are healthcare junkies. They visit doctors for everything.  So, how does an Aetna still make money while only charging me $225 per month?  We should be glad they can.

If we want this great medicine, then we’ve got to pay for it.  Including me.  And just because I am willing to pay for it (at the expense of LCD TVs, video game consoles, movie tickets and more) doesn’t mean others have a right to it.  We all have to make choices.  Even if we’re poor.  My parents had next to no money but they paid for health related expenses.  All while they watched the “poor” complain that others had healthcare and they didn’t.  My parents, who worked for social services agencies, watched so many people give nothing (taxes, productivity) but demand what they had.  Now here we are again.  Only we have socialist/communist government officials prepared to make it so.  I say NO.  I say we get government out of all healthcare related activities and return tax dollars to their rightful owners.  Then let private charities take care of the indigent.  How many of us want to be considered “indigent”?  I don’t.  I’d rather save my money, spend less on other things and pay for my own healthcare.  I don’t want charity.  I guess most people don’t.  That’s why the lazier folks out there like the notion of government healthcare.  You get more than you put in and don’t have to beg for it.  At some point, you run out of people to tax and even borrow from.  Then what?

Well, I like our system, problems and all.  The fixes we need to it require government to get out of the way, not in the way.  We need people to be responsible for their own healthcare with government providing “indigent” service only.  If that means not buying cars and electronics, then so be it.  We can’t rob the rich to get what they have.

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