It’s not that simple
Last night on the local news I watched a story about health care costs. The reporter, a consumer affairs specialist, talked about the expanding trend in health care of high-deductible medical insurance plans. Under the ACA, family annual deductibles can reach up to $12,700 (increasing to $12,900 for 2015); whatever your deductible, you pay your medical bills out of pocket until that deductible is met.
The uninsured, of course, just pay out of pocket.
Related post: Health insurance basics, part 1
The reporter encouraged us to
…take some time to research, and see what the
… Continue reading
What is health tourism and why Puerto Rico?
I read the other day that Puerto Rico wants to jump into the medical tourism ring and compete with those countries where it is already pretty well established, such as Mexico and Costa Rica.
Medical tourism, as the name implies, is traveling to another country to receive more affordable medical care.
[Puerto Rico’s] administration says that it commissioned a market study from which it deduces that medical costs on the island are between 40 percent and 60 percent lower than in the mainland U.S.
Such a move, if successful, could be a … Continue reading
This is another guest post from Kristen Reineke of CancerInsurance.com. I’ve written before about the ruinously high cost of cancer care, and although Obamacare limits out-of-pocket spending, deductibles and cost-sharing can still be in the thousands of dollars. Also, many associated expenses are not covered by insurance at all, such as transportation. Kristen has provided a great resource list for you or any one you know facing cancer treatment. FN
Cancer Care Resources
As if hearing the words “you have cancer” wasn’t bad enough, you soon come to find out just how costly cancer treatment can be.
Many … Continue reading
Which is cheapest?
As I did my grocery shopping the other day, I ran into a large cardboard brochure holder at the end of one aisle. Literally ran into it. Why do store managers place these displays where they block cart traffic? Oh, right, to get our attention.
Well, it worked. But the bright purple brochures would have attracted my eye anyway. They touted the recent release of Nexium (“The Purple Pill”®) as an over-the-counter (OTC) medication; that is, you no longer need a prescription to buy it.
The brochure tells us that Nexium is the “#1 doctor prescribed acid … Continue reading
This is a guest post by Kristen Reineke of CancerInsurance.com. I’ve posted previously about Alternatives to Obamacare, and critical illness plans are a relatively simple supplement to standard comprehensive health insurance plans. Cancer, specifically, is an expensive diagnosis, and my new ACA-compliant health plan not only has costly premiums, but a huge deductible (over $10,000). Most of the leading cancer hospitals in Seattle (University Medical Center, Fred Hutch Cancer Research Center, and Seattle Cancer Care Alliance) are not in my network, which could also lead to higher out-of-pocket costs. Kristen explains how these critical illness or “lump-sum” policies … Continue reading
When is a hospital admission not an admission?
Answer: When, for Medicare patients, it’s coded as “observation” status only.
Before the days of discharging patients ASAP (or not admitting them at all), doctors used to frequently admit patients “for observation.” It signified that a patient was not critically ill, but his or her condition warranted careful watching, i.e. observation.
Unfortunately for the last decade or so, that term has come to have a very specific meaning with very specific financial consequences. But most patients still consider it a casual phrase that doesn’t mean much, and that ignorance can end up… Continue reading
Five years ago, I didn’t think our health care system could get any more complicated. Well, I was wrong.
I have watched it become increasingly tortuous as Obamacare’s rules, regulations and mandates have brought about a seemingly endless stream of unintended consequences.
The major benefit, I think, of Obamacare was to take away the pre-existing coverage clause in insurance policies. The idea was to provide health coverage for everybody, regardless of current health, and to make medical expenses more equitable; that is, some will pay more (the young and healthy) and some will pay less (the older, sicker … Continue reading
Another drug we can’t afford
A few weeks ago I posted about the recent slew of commercials to “increase public awareness” of the chronic sleep disorder Non-24.
As Non-24 (formerly known as circadian rhythm disorder) affects totally blind people and is rare otherwise, it wasn’t clear to me why we needed increased awareness until I realized a new drug was coming to market.
When I wrote that post, this new drug, Hetlioz (tasimelteon), was not yet available in pharmacies. I speculated that it would be costly, perhaps as much as $10 per tablet. If only!
A few days ago … Continue reading
We knew they were coming
Yesterday I looked on the website of my state’s (Washington) Office of the Insurance Commissioner (OIC). Health insurance companies are required to submit requests for 2015 premium increases in May. The OIC then posts these requests and the public is allowed to comment.
Insurers also have to file any benefit changes to existing plans, and details of any new plans they will offer in 2015. Actuarial data (what the company paid out in medical claims, administrative costs, enrollee risk profiles, profits, etc.) must be included to support the need for the rate hikes.
Rates are … Continue reading
Health tourism—traveling to another country for more affordable health care—has been an interest of mine for some time. I haven’t done it (yet), but many others have.
Last week I read an article in The Atlantic about the trend for Americans living near the Mexican border to seek dental care in Mexico. The story highlights one dentist, Dr. Jessica Nitardy, who lives in El Paso, TX, and commutes every day to her dental practice in Juarez, Mexico. Although married to an American, Dr. Nitardy was born and schooled in Mexico. Even so, the majority of her patients are, … Continue reading