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Is Health Care Really on its Way to Reform?

The problem: Simply put, the costs of health care services are on a continuous, seemingly unstoppable, upward spiral. Increasing at a rate more than twice as fast as the rate of inflation, health insurance costs are on the rise as well. What could be the cause of this? What can be done about it? A brief description of what lead up to this horrific, uncontrollable cost is needed to really begin to understand why this is happening and why the people who can control it won't.

Since the beginning of medicine, doctors have been highly regarded because they save lives. They have since been increasing rates slowly but surely to fatten their wallets. But is it just to fatten their wallets? No. If you've walked into a doctors office lately, you may notice recent remodeling of medical facilities; you may notice new top of the line technology. If you paid a bit more attention to the materials that go into these top of the line machines and remodels, you'd notice one common characteristic- they are top of the line and the most expensive. This brings up the question- do they really need Italian tile in their office?

Doctors' are not picking up these costs and writing them off as business expenses. They are passing the costs of office renovations and new technological gadgets to the consumer- their customers. Their customers don't ask to stand on Italian tile or bask in the newly added sun deck off the doctors lounge, but they pay for it. Professionals in the medical industry have noticed that what they provided is seen as a necessity by their customers and they capitalize from it in a big way. They get both large pay check that is almost guaranteed month by month, and they get to live the lavish, luxurious lifestyle both at home and at work all on the consumers dime. Is this morally and ethically right? Absolutely not.

Physicians and other medical professionals are the driving force of the increasing health care costs we all experience today, and also the reason why so many of us cannot afford health insurance. So how does this affect health insurance costs? Lets say 5 years ago the cost of a doctors visit was $100. Your health insurance paid 80% of that $100 doctor visit- $80.00. Now the cost of a doctors visit is most likely around $300. Your insurance now pays $240.00. That is an amazing increase and all because there are zero controls on the medical services industry. Because the medical professionals decide that they need the newest technology that many insurers excluded from their coverage, all insured individuals end up paying the price through increased rates across all services. So next time you're in your doctors office, ask your doctor to justify their costs of doing business- odds are they won't be able to.

Now heres an idea. Why doesn't the government step in to regulate the medical industry? This fantastic idea is brought up time and time again. First off let me remind you that both medical professionals and insurers have become very accustomed to raising rates and benefiting from it(rates on average increase 10-15% per year). Politicians get the bright idea to please voters by attempting to pass legislation that seemingly would aim to reform health care, but isn't it interesting how it NEVER works? Could it be because the very politicians that prepare these legislations are paid off by insurers and medical professionals to encourage their works of legislative art not to succeed? Sure thing! So what can you do if your legislative body won't do their job?

You do what you can. When you shop for auto insurance you shop for the best price, right? If you're an efficient consumer you will. You can do the same thing for medical insurance and medical services. Shop around and do your part to decrease medical costs. If you start to voice your opinion about the outrageous increasing costs of health care and health insurance, medical providers will be forced to listen. So how do you do this?

Step 1: Call your medical provider (your doctor) and ask them for a complete list of prices for the services that you routinely require. Then do the same for other medical providers in your area. Make a choice to save money and chose a different, more competitively priced medical provider. If prices go up again, repeat step one, over and over again. Of course this will place a burden on your medical services consumption, however, over time we can reform the health care industry.

Another thought... The health care industry has named health care plans after the deductible amounts right? (i.e. high deductible plan and low deductible plan). My reason for this is that most people are drawn to the plan that sounds the cheapest up front without fully considering all the costs-- people are drawn to the low deductible plan because it sounds cheap. But the catch is it's not cheap and in fact this is how health care insurance companies make more money than they should.

So lets rename the plans. Lets now call a low deductible plan a high premium payment plan and a high deductible plan a low premium payment plan. I think you can do this because there really is an inverse relationship with the deductible and the premium payment. (i.e. the higher the deductible the lower the premium).

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