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The Real Cost Of Healthcare

What does the “cost of healthcare” mean to you? To many of us, the cost of healthcare is what we pay out of pocket…the co-pays, the deductibles, the co-insurances. I am sure everyone has been noticing that over the past few years that your cost for insurance out of your paycheck has changed and the charge out of pocket has changed.

At Blue Hills Sports & Spine Rehabilitation we are seeing more patients with high-deductible health plans from their employers…some with as high as $4000 a year. This is making people make decisions about healthcare more from a consumer perspective rather than a patient perspective…is this good for healthcare?

Most of us grew up with healthcare that was comprehensive…$5-$10 co-pays, no deductibles…get to the doctor when you can as it won’t break the bank. The shift to these higher co-pays and deductibles is having just the opposite effect…it is literally causing some people to go broke and others to defer healthcare because they just don’t want to spend the money on it. It’s sad…and it’s not going away. In fact…it will probably get worse.

I know I am starting to think like a consumer more when I am making my healthcare decisions. Do I go to the ER for something and incur a $500 deductible to wait for 6 hours to see someone, or, do I wait for a few days to see my regular doctor for a $20 office visit? Do I take the medication my doctor prescribed that doesn’t have a generic equivalent and pay $200, or, do I just not take the medicine?

How did it get like this? Excessive costs from large hospital based systems that are focused more on building buildings than treating patients. Some of these places pay more for waiting room chairs than it cost to outfit a whole physical therapy private practice…does that make sense? And how do they pay for it? From charging us more…and then it trickles down from the insurance companies.

We have to remember that the insurance companies are for profit organizations, many with shareholders that are expecting a healthy bottom line…regardless if you are healthy. Having an insurance company is like legalized gambling…you are setting your rates hoping people don’t utilize the services and in the end, you make money. They have all the stats and they do lots of research to determine how much is too much for someone to pay for routine care. They call it “cost sharing”…you pay part of the cost to deter your from accessing the services…unless you are just really, really sick and have no choice but to go for care.
I thought an ounce of prevention was worth a pound of cure? I guess that just isn’t the case any more. The “cost” of healthcare may be more than we can pay….