The Insanity of It All

Warning: my semi-annual politicalish post. When I read this, I admit I gawped:

$26,659: Our 2011 Medical Expenses

 Yes, you read that right. And we had insurance coverage for everyone last year, including daughter, 16, and my son who is 23 years old. Let me break it down for you:

    • Insurance Premiums……………..$14,179.04
    • Prescription Costs…………………$ 7,198.00*
    • Doctors Fees, etc…………………$ 2,068.49*
    • Eye care……………………………..$ 404.28*
    • Dental………………………………..$ 2,752.00**
    • Mileage……………………………….$ 300.00

* Costs in excess of insurance coverage.
** No insurance coverage.

Our medical costs in 2010 were $18,636. The principal reason why our medical expenses in 2011 increased by such a large amount was because our insurance premiums increased from roughly $7,000 in 2010 to over$14,000 in 2011.

This same crappy, expensive health insurance will likely be cancelled because my wife’s former employer has filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy and has filed a motion with the bankruptcy court to cancel all medical benefits for retirees and their families. My wife is classified as a retiree because she became disabled as the result of her pancreatic cancer, and the surgical chemotherapy and radiation treatments she received in 2006, and was unable to return to work. The story of her disability is described in detail at this link. Fortunately she is covered by Medicare, but we will lose even this crappy insurance coverage for myself, my daughter and my son.

I have a rare autoimmune disorder that unfortunately was not properly diagnosed until after the time had passed for me to file a disability claim with Social Security. Thus I am not eligible for disability benefits or Medicare. New York has a program for younger children that my daughter for which my daughter might qualify.

Because the insurance exchanges required under the Affordable Care Act will not go into effect until 2014, it is unlikely that my son and I can find insurance until then, assuming that the Supreme Court doesn’t find the ACA unconstitutional.

Basically one large every two weeks for medical expenses. Can any American defender of the status quo tell me why this isn’t completely insane and morally bankrupt? Or any Canadian admirers of U.S. health care — I know you are out there — tell me why the American system is superior in the fair and equitable provision of health care?

Just askin’.


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  1. #1 by mog on Monday 16 April 2012 - 1040

    I find it hard to be smug about Canadian healthcare when there are people who can’t afford meds, fibreglass casts, boot casts, home delivered chemotherapy, out patient physiotherapy, hearing aids, eye exams. psychology services. When fund raising for someone with a long term illness or major injury is commonplace. We have a two tier system here, those with benefits from work and those who rely on the basic provisions under the Healthcare Act.

    • #2 by torontoemerg on Monday 16 April 2012 - 1313

      My intention was not to be smug. Lord knows Canadian health care system has its problems, and funds only about 70 percent of total medical costs. I will point out however, that this example shows something like $12,000 in costs not covered by his plan. In other words about, all Canadians have basic health coverage. About 50 percent of us have additional private coverage through are employers, which covers many if not all of the things you mentioned, not to mention this example’s additional costs.

  2. #3 by rww on Monday 16 April 2012 - 1116

    As I read it, the point of the post is not that we do not need to make our system better, it is that we should not make it worse by emulating the American system.

    • #4 by edwin on Tuesday 17 April 2012 - 0931

      Prescription costs of 7k may also be mostly covered in Canada – either on welfare (i think) or under plans like the Trillium drug plan of Ontario. When my wife and I were facing drug costs in the 20k range it saved us from financial hardship.

      Canada is patchwork and incomplete with dental being for us the most important missing piece. One of the disadvantages to living next to the US is that we do look good in comparison to the US. I only wish we were to routinely compare ourselves to European countries. I think that it would provide a bigger possibility of improvements to our system.

      • #5 by torontoemerg on Tuesday 17 April 2012 - 1009

        Agreed. The pieces here in Canada are not well articulated. And there is huge room for improvement compared to Europe.

  3. #6 by sassy on Monday 16 April 2012 - 1143

    Agree with rww.

  4. #7 by gregmercer601 on Monday 16 April 2012 - 1232

    Your case, and your costs, nicely illustrate just how much we spend, and just how little security all that money buys. It was estimated decades ago by Physician researchers and others that about a third of health care offers no benefit, and since that time the amount of waste, profit, and costs of corruption and other overhead have all sharply increased. It makes you wonder what fraction of your massive yet not atypical (at all) bill served no useful purpose to you at all: $10,000? More? These costs make for a great source of jobs and profits, but alos impoverish all of us considerably, greatly add to the national debt, and clobber the ability of American businesses to compete. Everyone loses heavily, except for a small minority of us who profit at everyone else’s expense. To think, if we eliminated even a fraction of all those unhelpful expenses, just how much wealth it would free for for all of us. It’s truly mind-boggling.

    To emulate American health care would be staggeringly unwise, unless you like to throw your money away on surprisingly poor results.

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