Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Paying through the nose for emergency room visits so that Americans can proclaim they have freedom of choice when it comes to health care insurance!

Last weekend, I had a wonderful discussion with one of my hard-core republican neighbors about health care insurance and Obama care. She was very much opposed to socialized health care because it was socialism. Eeeuuuwwwwww..... No, you should take care of that yourself, and if you are not working, tough luck, because everybody who can work can have healthcare insurance. Right...... (That's a blog post on its own, I leave that for another time)

Anyway, she was very much surprised when I told here that the socialized health care in the Netherlands was cheaper per capita than in the capitalized US health care 'system'. Of course she didn't believe me. O well.

But the most interesting part was the discussion about why the costs for health care per capita in the US are larger than any other country. There are of course a whole slew of reasons for that, but one that I like to discuss here is the use of Emergency Rooms as last ditch primary care. People without health care insurance often wait with going to the doctor when they are sick in the hope that it will go away with home remedies, over the counter medication, or that the body deals with it by itself. But when that does not happen, people end up in the room when the situation worsens and they need urgent care. That is were the costs come in, because a 100 dollar visit to a primary care physician has now multiplied itself to a 1,000+ dollar bill. A bill they cannot pay anyways.

Here is the crux. My neighbor, who vehemently opposed ObamaCare because it was ugly socialism, really really agreed with the statement that we could not let people die. At the same time, she really really didn't want to have socialized health care because it is evil socialist yuckyness.... This dual choice results in lack of primary care (which is cheap) for many people and racked up emergency room bills (which is really expensive) for those waiting too long in order to avoid large health care bills. So, who is paying those emergency room bills? Well, not the people who tried to avoid using the health care system in the first place because they don't have the money to pay for it. They are more likely to go bankrupt because of it. Wna when that happens, who pays the bill? Exactly, the taxpayer.

In short, her choice to have 'freedom' in whether to have health care insurance resulted in higher costs for society because we were not consistent with our mantra that everybody should take care of themselves. Because when it comes to the point of letting someone die, society at large has decided that letting someone die of a curabvle medical issue is not accaptable, hence we allow gthem to flock the increadible expensive emergeny rooms, but we refuse to provide them with a cheaper option because it infringes on the perceived 'freedom' of choosing yourself whether you want to have health care or not. This inconsitency results in far mo0re tax payer dollars to go to health care then when we would be consistent in our choice. Either we choose to have the freedom to be insurced or not buit we let people die who do not have health care insurance, or we provide a meaningful option so that everybody can have affordable health care. This hybrid system of denying health care when you are not yet almost dead but allowing to use the emergency room as a last ditch effort to prevent someone from becoming a carcass is the most expensive compromise you can imagine. But try to tell that to someone who listen only to the republican propaganda channel to Fox News.