Sunday, September 20, 2015

Two posts in one!

I have spent the four years since I retired largely without health insurance. Since I was paying as I went, I only saw a doctor when I had a problem. I finally got a full time job that offers insurance, and I paid for the best plan they had, which costs me $40 a month by payroll deduction. I went to see a doctor. I had some complaints that I needed addressed, the largest of which was my high blood pressure. Over the past few years, I had been going to Mexico and buying blood pressure medication over the counter there, because it is cheaper to do so than seeing a doctor here.

I had also noticed, over the past six months some odd things with my health, and I thought I knew what the problem was, but needed a doctor to confirm it. It turns out that I was correct: I am now a diabetic. What this means is that I have to watch my diet, and I am going to be taking about 11 pills a day for the rest of my life. Failure to do so will result in my losing finger, toes, vision, kidneys, and finally having a heart attack. I would rather take the pills, thank you.

Diabetes can be managed, and it isn't the death sentence that it once was. However, it reminds you that you are mortal. 50 years old is just around the corner, and I am closer to 60 years old than I am to 35. It seems like just a few weeks ago that I was in my 20s.

Sic transit gloria mundi.

As to the insane cost of health care and medication:

I blame the insurance companies and the government for this. Why? Because every time I went for a checkup, the doctor wanted to do $500 worth of blood work. The fact that most people have insurance contributes to the cost of this blood work because this divorces the person receiving the service (the patient) from the person providing the service (the lab and the doctor) and the person paying for the service (the insurance company or the government, in the case of Medicare).

This distorts the supply/demand curve, as increasing prices do not reduce demand. What you get then, is people demanding for a product, cost be damned. When it isn't your money, it is easy to claim that money is no object. Once that happens, there is no market force to prevent costs from going up, but lots of demand for products and services, which drives prices through the roof. The other force that reduces supply, thus increasing cost, is government licensing of health professionals, but that is a post for another day.

Wanna find a way to reduce costs? The purchaser and the user HAVE to be the same person. In a government run healthcare system, the government is the purchaser AND the payer, and you as the patient get whatever services that the purchaser decides you get. In a private system, the user is the purchaser and payer.

3 comments:

Graybeard said...

During the fights over Obamacare, a guy came out with a book about his experiences trying to find out what stuff cost in hospitals and doctor's offices. He came to the conclusion that most of the time NO ONE knew what a procedure or item should cost. There was a legendary/semi-mythical book called the Brown Book (if I remember all this correctly) that was supposed to have the prices, but was impossible to actually see.

It's the most non-transparent system in the world. Markets are supposed to be good at price discovery. Clearly ain't happening.

Sorry to hear about the diabetes. I'm assuming type II, or NIDDM. I've been fighting it off since about the early 90s, when my brother was diagnosed and I became the only one in my family that didn't have it. There are several M.D.s who have published on successfully getting patients off of medications. Drop me an email if you could use some links to get started. (I figure you have more contacts in this world than I do, so no offense intended. Trying to be helpful.)


Divemedic said...

No offense taken. It's funny, because my graduate work was on diabetes. I am now my own case study.

Graybeard said...

I'm learning that Genetics can be a cast iron bitch to overcome.

I've discussed this with my Primary Care guy. He asked me detailed questions about how I eat/exercise/live and then told me there's not a thing he'd tell me to do differently.

OTOH, I'm "pre-diabetic" and my brother is full up type 2 that's getting worse with age. I hope I can stay on this side, bad as it is.