Health Care Incentives

I’ve recently had to pay for a visit to the doctor and realized that I’m afraid to go to the doctor because of what it might cost. It was a basic checkup that I guilted myself into since I’ve been paying for insurance but haven’t seen the doctor for 2 years.

I had nothing especially wrong with me, so I didn’t think it was time for me to compare burial insurance rates in minutes. I told him about having pretty bad heartburn and how taking Zantac helped. He performed a physical, and gave some advice about the heart burn. One month later I got a bill for $53.

I pay a decent amount for health insurance now, and from this experience, it’s clear that the insurance covers (in a real way) neither the minimal preventative treatment nor treatment in catastrophic cases. The latter I found out when I saw that my plan has a $50K lifetime limit.

At this time I don’t want to get into a discussion of healthcare policy in this country. I want to simply say that a good healthcare system, in my opinion, should:

  • Incentivize a person to visit the doctor when he/she first sees symptoms of a disease.
  • Incentivize a person to visit the doctor for regular check-ups.
  • Incentivize the doctor to do tests and treatments on patients that need them (based on a reasonable analysis of symptoms and medical history) and not to do tests or treatments on patients that likely don’t need them.

Or more simply put, there should be an easier, more open, relationship between patients and doctors. Frankly, after the $53 bill, I’m hesitant to go there again unless something is clearly wrong, and my definition of “wrong” covers cases that would probably cost the system a lot less if they were treated earlier

I’m willing to pay more, but I want the assurance and clarity that the current 100 pages of legalspeak in my insurance plan does not provide.

0 thoughts on “Health Care Incentives

  1. Eric

    I couldn’t agree more. After years and years of paying for health insurance, car insurance, homeowners insurance and life insurance I have come to 1 basic conclusion. You will pay a lot for something you dont really understand and if there is ever a time when you need the insurance the insurance company usually comes up with some “fine print” type of reason to not pay. When I am picking health insurance I basicially look at the catestrophic coverage. 2 or 3 days in the hospital could easily run up 100k in bills, so I try to pick the best catestrophic coverage and pay for the little stuff out of pocket, since I figure they will screw me anyway if I try to file a claim.

  2. Eric

    Any health care system, regardless of the country or the name will basically boil down to 3 things. Access to care, Quality of care and Cost of care. The first two will drive the 3rd. If you want everyone to have access, and tyou want high quality care it will have a high cost. The problem we have (and by we I mean America in general) is we want high access, high quality and low cost. Sorry america, it just does not work that way.

    1. Lex Post author

      Very well put. It’s great to see that you shop around for insurance. Most people (including myself) accept what’s available most easily to them and don’t inquire any further about the details of their plan. I think many people would be shocked to see the lifetime cap on their policy.

  3. Joe Cianfarra

    Lex, Eric took the words out of my mouth. The $53 bucks is the least of your concern. A size of the deductable is something that must be determined based upon your individual tolerance to pay for regular care, however when I saw a limit of $50k I had to read it twice to make sure of what I was reading. I am coming from a different place having seen receipts from insurance payments (we call them non-bill bills) that accululated 5 and 10 times that ammount from our kids. Best of health to you, Joey C.

    1. Lex Post author

      There are two plans available to me as a student from a lowly Freshman to a post-doctoral researcher. The first is $1200 per year. The second is $3000 per year. The $1200 plan has a $50K lifetime limit and the $3000 plan has a $500K lifetime limit. In my mind, even the cheapest plan needs to have NO lifetime cap. Thanks for the best wishes. I hope neither you nor I will have to make many insurance payments in the future.

  4. Azeez Hayne

    It might make you feel better to know that your YEARLY premium is cheaper than my MONTHLY premium! You should check whether you are eligible to be included on a parent’s insurance. Depending on age if you are still a student you might be able to get coverage as part of their plan.

  5. Eric

    If it makes you feel any better, ultimately if you ever encounter those enormous medical bills you can always declare bankrupcy. The amount of moeny someone can owe in medical bills is really absurd. I dont know what the expectation is but what option other then BK do people really have when they face 500k in medical bills. I feel bad for people in that situation, they have some MAJOR medical event going on and in the midest of everything the collectors are calling 4-5 times a day. 5 different collection companies calling 5 times a day is 25 calls a day, and most of the calls will be between 6pm and 10pm. Can you imagine, someone in your family is stricken with a major illness and you have a collector calling literally every 10 min from the time you get home from work to the time you go to bed. Sheshhh


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