Average Cost of Health Insurance Making You Mad? Read this!

Is it Time to Divorce Your Food?

You and I have something in common.  In fact, we have something in common with all the patients that I see and frankly, most of the country.  By the title of this article, you are not surprised that I am talking about the average cost of health insurance.  As a doctor, it may not seem odd to you that I am bitter towards insurance companies.  Most of us are.  But what might surprise you, is that I have a cash practice.  Now you are probably thinking, “Why do you care about insurance then?”  Since you ask, let me share something with you that is going to really “torque your chain”.  My reason for disliking insurance goes much deeper than my disgust at watching the average cost of health insurance continue to rise like a rocket into space.

The Story Hits Home

Since the first day I began practice, something felt wrong about the insurance system.  I have continually avoided the system in my office for nearly 15 years now.  But the “man behind the curtain” so to say was seen with a recent trip to an emergency clinic and a letter from our insurance provider.  It’s close to 10:30pm on Saturday night, I just landed at the airport and called my wife to let her know I was on the ground.  The person I got on the other end of the line sounded nothing like my wife’s vibrant voice.  Rushing home, I found her incredibly sick.

This was different and she needed emergent care.  Fast forward an hour, her vitals checked, an x-ray taken, 10 minutes with the doctor, and a conciliatory cup of water and my wife is offered several medicines and a “go see your general practitioner” if things don’t get better.

Now, the rest of this story is that about one month later, we get a bill totaling almost $2000 dollars.  A week later, another bill totaling nearly $700 dollars.  And in between, a letter from our insurance provider saying they are raising her rates, on a catastrophic policy that is never used, by over 55%.  Think my story is unique.  It’s not.  I hear it routinely and the average cost of health insurance is projected to keep inflating.

Insurance is Destroying Relationships

This is everyday medicine.  What are you getting for it?  I had to ask myself, as a doctor, this very question.  And the answer I came up with was robbed.  I am forced to spend money and get no return.  That is robbery.  You see, the deeper I looked, the clearer the story became.  Health insurance has come between you and I.  It has tried to distance my relationship with you.  I care about you.  When you sit down and share your needs with me, my head is intentionally focused on you.  I am a listener and a problem solver.  I am not burdened with thinking about the “time with patient to insurance reimbursement ratio”.  I am not forced to make decisions for care based on coverage.

You are not opening your mailbox with surprise bills from me for services you question the necessity of.  If that was not enough, let me infuriate you even more.  99% of the care that you are given is not designed in any way to improve your long-term health or prevent your need for further acute care.

How to Reduce the Average Cost of Health Insurance

Let’s look at this problem from another direction.  It would not be fair for me to agitate the problem around the average cost of health insurance without a solution.  There is no need for a long process wrapped in politics and legislation to solve this problem.  The answer to lowering the average cost of health insurance is nothing more than reducing the role of health insurance.  Make them less significant, lower demand, and prices drop.  Insurance is essentially the middle man.  One more step in the process.

Skip the middle man.  Go directly to the doctor.  I can tell you first hand, the amount of money that I spend annually for my wife and I on labs and other health related items does not match what we spent in one trip related to emergent care.  The same is true for all of my patients.  Not some, ALL!

Cut Out the Middle Man

Your doctor is there for you. Not the insurance company or any other middle man in the mix.  If you are a doctor reading this or a middle man and that truth makes you mad, good!  It simply proves my points and it’s still the truth.

As a patient, you should only accept seeing a doctor that is going to take the time to treat you with the level of care that you deserve.  The very concept of limiting care based on insurance coverage or allowing insurance to dictate your needs is flawed and only part of the reason that your average cost of health insurance continues to rise.

I am not an industry leading expert in the insurance field.  However, I was blessed with commonsense and I can tell you that the current health insurance model concept is not logical for patients, providers or the relationship between the two.  Ironically this is why you, I and many others become emotionally charged around the topic.  I know what I see every day in practice and what years of experience have taught me about the reality of insurance versus cash type practices regarding patient care.  The patient always wins when there is no interference in the doctor-patient relationship.

I have given you my first-hand knowledge.  While I know this has built trust between you and I, I want to you to hear it from another source, Mr. Jeff Danby, author of the short, but highly beneficial read, Common Sense Medicine: Restoring the Patient/Physician Relationship.

 

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