Rationing: It’s a dirty word. Some politicians and activists warn of the dangers of a public option that would have the government ration out health care, and point to Europe as a cautionary tale; others claim that care is already being rationed indirectly by a patient’s health insurance plan. Either way, the thought of being denied needed medical treatment because of a callous calculation is scary. Costs need to be cut, either by the federal government or private insurance companies looking to maximize their profits–therefore, everyone’s looking for whatever procedures may be considered unnecessary and wasteful.
How do you know if you’re a victim of rationing, as opposed to a recipient of high-quality, sensible health care? In Newsweek magazine, medical school professor Christopher Moore acknowledged this dilemma. Sometimes, excess treatment can hurt the patient more than it helps. Take CT scans, for example. Admittedly, they are costly, with prices continuing to rise (and also being passed onto your family health insurance bill); but CT scanners are amazing medical technology that can identify if a head injury is life-threatening. However, studies have shown that the probability of that being the case are relatively tiny. Meanwhile, there is up to a 1-in-1,000 chance of each CT scan causing eventual death from cancer (due to the radiation involved), even more so for younger patients. The medical risks of doing a CT scan on a teenager with a concussion could outweigh the benefits, even after removing cost from the equation. Keeping a close watch on the patient might be a better bet.
So if your doctor refuses to perform an expensive test or other procedure, it’s very likely that he or she has a legitimate medical reason for it. If you get more affordable health insurance because of the reduced cost, so much the better, but that’s not the #1 priority. Occasionally, a physician who performs the procedure might be doing it solely to avoid a malpractice lawsuit. The prospect of a government-run public option won’t stop that. Moore insists that a doctor who genuinely believes an expensive procedure is sorely needed won’t let cost concerns stop him or her from ordering it. Let’s hope so.
(Image: Akira Oghaki under CC 2.0)
As the health care fight rages on in Washington, D.C., MSNBC has reported another example of why so many people are clamoring for some kind of health insurance reform. In Colorado, United HealthCare refused to insure a 2-year-old girl because they claim that she is underweight! Aislin Bates weighs just 22 pounds, which is below United Health’s height and weight standards. Her doctors insist that she’s simply petite for her age and that her small size is genetic.
This is also one of the pitfalls of becoming self-employed: her father left his job and tried to buy a family health insurance
policy on the open market. The family, including little Aislin, had been covered by United HealthCare in the past through his old employer. Without being in that larger buying pool, their insurer felt that their standards didn’t allow them to underwrite a policy for his daughter.
While the girl is perfectly healthy, her parents admit that they have taken her to food therapy for her picky eating habits. However, don’t you think that would be a positive? In the long run, paying for this treatment now would be far less expensive than possibly paying for a stay in an eating disorder clinic later.
Family Health Insurance Should Meet Your Needs and Budget
Among many Americans, family health insurance has become a welcome alternative to employer-sponsored medical coverage programs. As an expansion of individual health insurance, family medical insurance programs allow additional immediate family members to be included in the same policy.
Compared to purchasing individual policies, placing the entire family under a single program can help speed up the processing of application, deposit payments and claims. In addition, health insurance developed particularly for families may allow more flexible terms on deductibles, co-insurance, policy maximums and exclusions, and other options.
To find more information about family health insurance plans, visit VitalOneHealth.com. VitalOne, Inc. can provide the assistance of experts to help you find the program that will suit your financial situation and address your particular goals. Also, Vital One can give access to more than 5,000 plans from notable insurance providers like United Health (Golden Rule), Humana, Aetna, Assurant and many other companies.
A survey released on January 8, 2008 of preventable deaths in 19 industrialized countries ranked the United States last when it comes to providing health care to its citizens. The survey was conducted by the Commonwealth Fund, a charitable organization created to promote health care in the industrialized parts of the world. Their study, which was called “Measuring the Health of Nations: Updating an Earlier Analysis” and published in the Health Affairs journal this month, examined the death rates for individuals under the age of 75, particularly looking for problems that could have been prevented through more effective health care.
The same study had been conducted twice before: once in 1997/1998 and more recently in 2002/2003. Part of establishing the country rankings involved looking at each country’s improvement as compared to past studies. While all of the other countries saw a decline in preventable deaths by an average of 16 percent, the United States’ rate only decreased by 4%. The U. S. was also ranked last in the 2002/2003 results after placing 15th in the 1997/1998 results. Had the United States shown similar improvements approximately 100,000 deaths would have been prevented.
The survey’s top five countries included France in first place followed by Japan, Australia, Austria, and Canada. The survey also pointed out the United States spends more on health care than do any of the countries with better results.