Yup, today’s post is going to be a mini rant on health insurance. To fully understand why I’m mad, it’s important to know the back story. Before my wife and I got married, we each had our own health coverage from our employers. Both were high deductible plans with an HSA. All was great in healthcare land. Then, I was laid off. No worries because the severance package I received carried my insurance up to a few days before our wedding. After we were married, I was added onto my wife’s health care plan.
Again, all is well in healthcare land. I am under my wife’s coverage and that coverage is good. Fast forward to a few days ago and my wife informs me that open enrollment is coming up at her work.
Being the planner that I am, I jumped onto the healthcare website to see what comparable plans would be under the Affordable Care Act and the costs. This is where my laptop hits the wall. Holy crap is health insurance expensive! We are two healthy adults in our 30’s without any medical issues and to get a decent plan, we are looking at close $1,000 a month! What part of that is affordable?
But my disgust doesn’t stop there. I’ve actually gotten over the sticker shock of healthcare. The real issue I have is how dang confusing healthcare is. You have a deductible, then co-insurance. Plus you have in-network, out-of-network coverage and routine and preventative care. I think you also have different payments if you blood is A, B or O negative.
It’s Not Just The Affordable Care Act Either
On top of this are the prices of medical services. I have no clue how much a doctor visit costs or an MRI, etc. I just get it done, and then pray that my insurance covers the bill. Most times I get a bill in the mail for my portion of what I owe. Usually this amount is reasonable, like $100 at most. But it’s always a guessing game when the bill comes.
For example, we get letters in the mail all of the time telling us what our insurance covered. In 2 point font, in the lower right hand corner it says “THIS IS NOT A BILL”. Maybe you should make that in bold, red font across the entire piece of paper so I don’t need to be rushed to the hospital for heart attack symptoms.
Am I Just An Idiot?
I like to think of myself as a smart person but when it comes to health insurance, forget about it. There has to be an easier way, a clearer way to tackle the health care in this country. Can’t we all just pay 100% out of pocket a flat amount every year and once we hit that, everything, and I mean everything, is covered 100%? (Don’t get me started on the fact that healthcare plans never seem to have a January/December fiscal year. It’s always some random crap like March/April so when you think you have hit your deductible, you really haven’t.)
I think that health insurance is confusing for a reason: money. The more confusing you make it, the more people will give up trying to understand it. Then you can charge whatever you want for services, have various tiers of what is covered/what isn’t and pocket the difference.
We need real reform in health care. The Affordable Care Act isn’t reform. We need clearly visible pricing on services and we need standards for what these should cost. I know through my wife’s coverage we can go online and type in a procedure and get a very rough estimate of how much it will cost. This doesn’t work. First, most people probably don’t know if they have this service at their disposal. What should be done is pricing at the hospital/doctor’s office. This information should be on their website as well.
What we really need is a Kayak type of site for healthcare. That would be ideal. (Note: if you are starting to create this site based on my idea, I want in!)
At the end of the day, healthcare just confuses the heck out of me. I remember when I worked for a financial planner and had to find a guy that was an expert in Medicare and interview him so we could present him to our older clients. Even Medicare is confusing. For example, my Dad had back surgery recently. He is retired and has Medicare. My Mom just retired, but was still covered under her employer’s plan (they both were). They had to go back and forth numerous times to figure out which insurance was covering the surgery! After many wasted hours, it was finally cleared up.
There has to be a better way. Right? Am I alone here? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.