The Health Care Maze

Ah, the American “health care” system.

For the past forty or so years, the “health care” insurance industry in the United States has been a for-profit enterprise, and the CEOs rake in billions for their businesses. It’s not like they care about the health and well-being of the average American. It’s all about the money, honey. If you don’t believe me, try getting a necessary test or medication and the insurance company denying it because “it costs too much.” It doesn’t matter whether it will save your life or not, it just “costs too much.” Gods forbid that a person will die without it. Apparently, that’s the cost of doing business in America.

The history of medicine in America is long and complicated. The first hospital didn’t open until the early eighteenth century, and medicine as a profession wasn’t prevalent until the mid-eighteenth century. The outbreak of the Civil War changed the view of how medicine was practiced. The Union had more professional doctors and sanitary conditions than the Confederacy, and it made a big difference in the ability of the wounded to recover. In fact, more soldiers died of disease and complications of infection than of their wounds.

The industry changed again during World War II. Employers could no longer offer outrageous salaries to entice workers. Instead, they provided a new “fringe benefit” in the form of health care packages. The modern health insurance industry evolved from early accident insurance that protected railway and steamboat workers. If you didn’t have accident insurance, you paid the fee for the services rendered.

In 1966, the Social Security Administration implemented the Medicare system to provide care for those aged 65 and older. What began ten years prior as a program to cover the families of service members was expanded to include senior citizens and the disabled. Because health care in America had been employer-based, those who had retired now had a care plan to carry them into their “golden years.” The Republican Party opposes the idea of “socialized” medicine for those in need. In the years since it’s inception, Medicare and it’s parent Social Security have been the favorite targets when it comes to “reducing the deficit.”

So, here I am, unemployed, which means that in America, I’m on my own for “health insurance.” That means reading information that is barely decipherable because it’s written in the language of the industry. I’ve been a tech writer for a long time, and most of the descriptions I read seem to be intentionally obtuse and obfuscated. Some of it comes across as word salad to me.

And it’s not like a “health care” plan really covers anything anyway. Here’s how it will likely go for me this year: I will pay a premium of several hundred dollars a month. That premium might fully cover wellness checks, (oh, and I get to pay extra if I need dental and vision care). If I see a doctor for a cold or injury, I’ll need to pay a “co-pay” on top of the regular premium I already pay monthly. And if something should happen, like I slip on the ice and break something, insurance will probably only pay a portion of the bill, and I’ll go into bankruptcy. In the meantime, I’ll still be paying a monthly premium to the robber barons who are laughing all the way to the bank.

I have one more week to decide which plan to choose. Unfortunately, the amount I pay will be based on what I made this year, not what I think I’ll make next year. I am expecting a ninety percent pay cut next year. So I can’t wait to see how much the company I select thinks they’ll get a month. I am several years away from applying for Social Security and Medicare, so I don’t have much choice than to stay as healthy as possible.

Since I’ve started this search, my phone has been blowing up. I have received at least fifty phone calls in the last twenty-four hours about health care. The few that I have inadvertently answered have been about my “recent inquiry into health care,” and every voice so far has had an accent. I’ll find what I’m looking for through the online exchange, thank you very much.

I’ll let you know how it goes. I am putting off my search until I can think about it, probably early next week. Right now, I have to take care of First Reader and get the house ready for her homecoming.

Thanks again for your patience these last two weeks. I appreciate your readership and look forward to sharing more insights over the coming year.

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