Why The U.S. Health Care System Is Broken

I got a new insurance company in June. It has taken them until this week to figure out how much they are charging me for my shrink. Some time in July they said they wouldn’t pay anything at all, because me being crazy is a previously existing condition. I sent in the appropriate forms proving prior coverage of the previously existing crazy, and they conceded that they would bear some of the cost. The cost they are willing to bear is significantly less than my previous insurer, though. My doctor and I argued with them about that, but they wouldn’t budge. Apparently my doctor is too in-network or not in-network enough, depending on whom I ask. Anyway, it’s now October and I have consumed months of medical services without ever knowing the price. Now I’m going to have to pay a bill that’s double what I was expecting.

How can health consumers be expected to negotiate on price or shop around when it takes four months to get a price quote?

At this point the only thing that makes me want to get any medical care at all is the fact that it’s costing my insurer more than it’s costing me. I’m tempted to go over to my Primary Care Physician’s office and tell him I’ve been experiencing nonspecific bone and organ pain and ask for some expensive tests, just to bleed them a little more.

Did you hear the one about the doctor, the hospital administrator, and the HMO exec who were trying to get into heaven? They let the doctor in because doctors save lives. They let the hospital administrator in because hospital administrators help doctors save lives. The HMO exec says “hey, I help people save lives too!” and St. Peter says “Let’s do it like you do on earth with people trying to get into a hospital: We’ll admit you for three days, but after that you can go to hell.”

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