As I watch the chess match between the president and members of congress over the re-authorization of the bill to cover children of the working poor with health care (CHIP), I am struck by how dysfunctional our health care system has become.
It is like sitting on an airplane and knowing that almost everyone on the flight has paid a different price for their seat on an aircraft that is going to the same destination. Our health care coverage is just as bizarre.
Being employed in a job that provides health care coverage does not guarantee you the same level of care that another employed person might have. Because it has become a cost that employers have to bear against bottom line profits or other operating expenses, each employer is free to shop around for the best fit for their workplace.
So some of us may have coverage that allows us to afford to see doctors when we need to and get most of our care paid for. For others of us, we have to make choices and sometimes forgo routine care that may keep us healthy.
If you are poor and need to rely on Medicaid, many things are paid in full, but only if you can find a doctor that will even see you. Good luck with that. For those over 65 and on Medicare, there is a whole new set of hoops to jump through to be able to afford your care.
Physicians have to play the health insurance pricing game and hire extra people to decode each insurance maze so they can get paid. The insurance companies call their own shots on what they will pay for any given procedure. How backwards is that?
Gone are the days of a doctors visit being a standard price for each person who was seen. Now it is all about procedure codes, co-pays and deductibles.
I can't think of anyone who is happy with the current state of affairs. When we have gotten to the state that we have so many new lifesaving tests, diagnosis tools and cures, but it will bankrupt you if you need them; something is very wrong.
Our congress has little incentive of their own to put forth changes. They have access to the best health care coverage they can give themselves. But even with that, it is hard to believe they haven't had some close family member deal with the devastation a catastrophic illness can cause.
Even if we see an override of the presidential veto of the CHIP reauthorization, it will be just a band aid approach to our escalating health care crisis.
I agree that we still have the best health care available in the world. But soon many, including a good chunk of the middle class, will be unable to afford anything more than the basics.
There has to be better answers to either what we have or a total socialized medicine program with month long waits just to see a doctor.
I hope someone gets the vision sooner than later.