As we begin the last month in 2018, a month of joy, stress, faith, family, frustration, entertaining, and credit cards, I am writing about our U.S. healthcare.
There are a lot of similarities between the Christmas holidays and healthcare: supplement insurance, deductibles, co-insurance, longterm care, fee-for-service, generic vs. brand, donut holes, drug levels, open enrollment, Advantage accounts, to name a few. On top of the confusion, we have COB, ACO, EOB, MAGI, EHB, FBL, and SNF. What? You get the point.
I write this as a healthy person. I wonder how anyone with acute or chronic illness maneuvers through the maze (mess). I also have significant concerns for the retired and elderly. And, what about people who have no computer skills?
Gaps in mental health care are a grim reality. We have record suicides and homicides for many reasons, but if one is not extremely wealthy, receiving or maintaining consistent mental health therapy or medication is next to impossible.
I recently wrote a blog about my experience in getting a pneumonia shot. I spent my day asking questions and getting answers, and finally received insurance approval for the nearly $200.00 charge. A friend in Germany responded with, “…So glad I’m currently in a better (non-U.S.) health care system that doesn’t have all this paperwork and rules too complex for people to deal with!”
My sister volunteers to help seniors signed up for Part D Medicare. Variants in costs and benefits are too complicated for the majority to find, understand, or choose.
On CBS This Morning, a woman with MS (Multiple Sclerosis) was charged $3,500 for a new medication from her doctor. Nobody explained the cost difference, she didn’t ask, the doctor likely didn’t know the cost, and the pharmacy filled the prescription as written. Reminds me of the story where everybody blamed somebody when nobody did what anybody could have.
Please know I am not referring to the hardworking and dedicated medical employees and mental health counselors. I think we have the best. It is the system. Doctors, nurses, and counselors do what they can, every day, within the constraints of the law and agency standards.
There are happy stories about our healthcare too; it’s the process of understanding its complexities and paying for it that challenges me.
As we prepare for a memorable holiday season let us create a reasonable, workable schedule of events so we can have a season of joy, faith, entertaining, and family, instead of stress, frustration, and credit cards. Let us balance what isn’t working, (healthcare) with what we can control; a holiday your family can understand, survive, and appreciate.
Until the next time: Live while you live.
Jennifer Goble, Ph.D., LPC, is the author of “My Clients…My Teachers,” and the blogger and writer of Rural Women Stories: www.ruralwomenstories.com.
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