by James Wallace Harris, Wednesday, October 4, 2017
There are some books everybody should read. Often those books are on topics few people want to think about and the book I want everyone to read is about health care — a subject that will bore the will-to-live out of most readers. An American Sickness: How Healthcare Became Big Business and How You Can Take It Back by Elisabeth Rosenthal is a book I read for my Two-Person Book Club, and we both found it riveting.
As long as you can stay out of a hospital, emergency room, or a doctor’s office that’s aligned with a hospital, you’re probably okay to skip reading this book. But don’t think having good health insurance will protect you from bankruptcy. Rosenthal’s book is about all the ways the American Medical Industrial Complex is finding to bill you beyond what your insurance will pay. If you have any kind of savings at all, they are at risk of being wiped out by playing Russian roulette with our current healthcare system.
What Rosenthal thoroughly proves is our plutocratic government will always take political donations from the greedy, which explains the escalating medical costs in America. Republicans are hell-bent to kill Obamacare because they want to cut taxes for themselves and their donors don’t want any laws that impede them from profiting on the misery of sick folks.
This is the second time I’ve written about this book. I’ve told all my friends about it, and none of them are interested. An American Sickness scares the bejeezus out of me. The only way we can avoid being ripped off is by collectively working together. Expecting Congress to solve this problem is insane unless there’s an overwhelming demand from voters.
Everyone wants to have a health insurance policy that covers all their medical bills and never worry what hospitals and doctors bill their insurance. That’s not going happen. One day you will receive a bill that your insurance won’t pay, whether it’s $600, $6,000, $60,000 or $600,000, and you’ll not be able to wish it away. Rosenthal had many stories of people going to an emergency room and ending up owing the price of a Mercedes or even a median-priced house because parts of their bill weren’t cover by their insurance.
I was just on the phone with a friend who got a $29,000 ER bill after he fell off his bike while on vacation and needed 13 stitches. He’s now wrangling with his Medicare Advantage plan over how much he has to pay for this out-of-network event. He also says he’s in the Medicare donut hole and paying $500 a month for insulin and $600 a month for his digestive enzymes. [Rosenthal relates a story of a mom taking her toddler to a pediatrician who referred her to a plastic surgeon that put in 3 stitches and was billed $50,000. So my friend got a bargain for 13.]
Rosenthal offers hope, but it depends on political change. And for political change to occur more people need to read this book. That means you.
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6 thoughts on “How to Save Thousands of $$$”
You’re right: health care is a business. And, the goal of a business is to generate profits–not to supply you with world-class health care at a fair price. The system is rigged to generate billable procedures (constant blood work, X-rays, CT scans, etc.) and to get you on prescriptions that produce monthly cash flows for Big Phama.
Most people feel they have no leverage over their doctors, clinics, hospitals, etc. We have become a society of drones.
But should misery be profitable? We can design our society any way we like. We’ve designed it so some people can become wealthy and have more than other people. I can accept that because people want the opportunity to succeed. However, should the penalty to do well in the game, or even fail to play, be losing everything? What about all the young, old, and incapable who can’t play the game? I believe we should design the game for winners, but not making losing so cruel.
I think the cost of being able to win is making the game better for everyone at a minimal level.
You’re underestimating the Greed Factor. People tend to want more money, even if they’re millionaires. Warren Buffett is an exception to this rule, but seeing how the millionaires in the Trump Cabinet are abusing their travel budgets shows that most Rich People are happy with spending Other People’s Money instead of worrying about the Common Good as you do. Yes, a Fairer Game could be devised but who will convince the Wealthy to go along with it?
I don’t know if I’m underestimating the greed factor. I believe wealth inequality will destroy our civilization before climate change can. Many civilizations go through a decadent period before their collapse. I figure our wealth inequality qualifies at truly decadent.
1. “I’ve told all my friends about it, and NONE of them are interested.”
2. From more than 2,000 followers – only 3 (!) “likes” and 1(one !) “thoughts”.
Remarkable! “Rosy future”, indeed.
I guess they feel covered.