A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. –Proverbs 15:1
Most of us just wait and worry.
It’s impossible to live a rich life if you’re worried about your healthcare costs. Worry never solves anything, so here is my take on the problem of fitting health care into the budget.
Before I get to my recommendations, I’ll mention the political solution, for what it’s worth.
Our founding fathers divided the government into three branches. The idea was each would keep check on the others. But occasionally one party gets control of both the legislature and executive branches. One side claims a mandate and doesn’t want to listen to other ideas. The other side gets angry and starts hurling accusations. No one wants to compromise. Apparently they haven’t heard of Proverbs 15:1.
When this happens, the people suffer. A case in point. The ACA provided for subsidies for people who’d have trouble paying health care premiums, but these were to be managed under the states’ Medicaid programs. Over half the states refused to sign up. As a result, the people in those states who didn’t sign up are helping to pay for the subsidies of the other states, but don’t qualify for subsidies themselves. That’s right, they have to pay taxes to support others, while not able to obtain insurance or claim benefits for themselves.
What happened to equal protection under the law?
Oh, I forgot, that doesn’t apply to taxes. But this idea of paying taxes that only benefits others isn’t new. People who take their children out of the public schools and send them to private schools or homeschool are in the same situation. They still pay school tax.
It would be wonderful if politicians would work toward a solution that’s fair for all, for taxes and healthcare. But it takes statesmen such as those who founded the country, and that won’t happen until the people get tired of the status quo.
Why don’t people do something? Most don’t want to deal with politics. It’s a real turn-off and controversial and takes courage. Better to let other people do that. I understand. When I started to write a series about the political corruption after the civil war, I made my hero a cowboy. After all, who would believe a politician could be a hero? The people back then were much like we are, and it took over twenty years for the contention of that era to lessen. Let’s hope it doesn’t take that long this time.
Let’s get real.
We can’t wait on politicians to solve our problems. We’re going to have to work out a solution in our own budgets. This is what I recommend.
If you’re happy with your coverage and you can afford it, keep it. Keep in mind your choices are going to be limited by the insurance companies and the government. Why is this important?
A couple of years ago I had to have a medical test done. The hospital my doctor chose called me in to work out the costs up front. There were co-pays, but if I agreed to pay up front, I got a discount. I always like discounts, and this was substantial. I loved that hospital. Later that same year, I had an emergency, and the hospital I went to, gave me the same test. When I got the bill, it was five times what I’d paid to the first hospital. The same test, the same results. So they get to pull any figure out of the air and charge it? I refused to pay. We went back and forth. They threatened to ruin my credit. Fine, I didn’t need that much credit anyway. I didn’t hear anything more and my credit score wasn’t affected. I’m not advocating not paying your bills, but I am advocating that you question your bills—hard.
Needless to say when I need a hospital in the future, I’ll want to go to that first one, but it might not be approved by my insurance company, and the test I need might not be approved by the government. The only solution is to pay for it myself, and since I’m not wealthy, that means ear-marked savings. That solution might not sit well with some, but here’s something we have to keep in mind.
The one who holds the purse strings calls the shots.
That should be a duh statement, but I think some of us may have forgotten it. Here’s another. Any savings makes you more autonomous.
Fortunately there are signs healthcare providers are awakening to the fact they’ll have to deal with the problem themselves. Doctors are offering concierge services. You don’t have to be wealthy. Some have self-pay plans that are quite reasonable. Shop around
Another innovation is pharmacies offering medical services, as well as drug programs, some even have clinics. If you don’t have a serious medical problem, these places offer more affordable services. Could they take the place of the doctor’s office in the future?
So that’s the best solution as things stand. If you don’t have chronic conditions, self-insure or buy insurance with the lowest premium and highest catastrophic coverage, and save as much as possible so you can call the shots.
But saving is one of those things we know we should do but don’t. Next week I’ll touch on the psychology of saving as I discuss some expenses we can control better.