Brown-Wolf: Diagnosing our ailing health care system
I’ll admit it — I know next to nothing about health care. But I do know this: A lot of us are getting screwed in Summit County.
From what I understand (and please realize that my understanding is limited), Obamacare has triggered changes on all health fronts — some good and some not so much. My beef is not with public policy as much as it is with insurance plans and pharmaceutical companies.
This past year, four major insurance companies merged into two and although they claim plans will be more efficient and offer patients more choices, that has not been the case for people I know, including my own family. Not only has our monthly insurance rate sky-rocketed, but many of the doctors my family sees are not available in the new “system,” and our yearly deductible is outrageous. It makes me want to forgo the entire process, adopt zero insurance and go to the ER when needed. But emergency rooms are for emergencies, not a bad cold, and people who do that drain the system, only making the process worse. Maybe I should move to Canada.
The absurd medical cost of health care is a result of poor public policy, insurance companies, hospital costs and inflated drug costs set by pharmaceutical companies. How does medication that costs $24 in Canada or Mexico cost $432 in the United States? Vertex, the company that created Orkambi (a new drug to treat cystic fibrosis), is charging patients $259,000 per year for the drug. Given the inflated rates, some pharmaceuticals execs are making some serious coin. A friend of my mother’s died because she couldn’t afford her medication. This fall, my son was injured playing football and eventually needed a specialized MRI. The cost in Summit County? Six-thousand dollars, and our insurance wouldn’t cover it (no surprise). We finally found a place in Denver that charged us $800 — a $5200 difference. How is that justified?
Trying to understand health care in our country is not easy. I’ll admit it — I turn the page when I see an article about Obamacare. It’s like trying to read a book in a different language or understand a calculus problem when all you’ve ever taken are arts classes. I’m proud of our country for its global lead in medical research, and I understand it takes money to be the pioneers, but perhaps it’s time to take some of that money and care for people by offering medication at a reasonable cost. If not, we’ll end up with a country of sickies draining the system. Oh, wait … we have that already.
Indeed, medical care goes beyond insurance and pharmaceutical fees. It begins with education. We can and should sleep well, eat well and exercise — all good things for the body and mind, but getting gouged financially in a messed up health care system creates stress. It needs to stop.
Think Twice was intended to launch conversation, so let’s talk. I need someone to explain it to me. I just don’t get it. Does anyone out there have an answer?
Carrie Brown-Wolf lives in Silverthorne.
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