Other than taking a month off after my discharge from the US Army, I can’t remember a time when I didn’t have a job and worked for a living. I can’t even remember a time when I couldn’t find a job anytime I wanted one. Yet today, I know quite a large number of people who are unemployed or underemployed.
Sometimes things aren’t real clear and grab your attention until they affect you personally. I just experienced a medical situation that turned on the light of understanding for me.
This one involves my own daughter, thus the personal connection. She works for a large restaurant chain that decided to cut all employees to 30 hours or less per week due to Obamacare rules. She does however have basic group medical insurance through the company with the insurance premiums being deducted from her pay. With the new 30 or less hours per week pay, her net take home pay is around $100 per week after taxes and her health insurance is paid. Her employer pays nothing toward the cost of health insurance.
Then disaster struck and she injured her back and needed surgery to correct the problem. Because she is employed, and has basic insurance coverage, the surgeon and the hospital demanded $5,000 down before they would perform the needed operation. This was just a down payment on the hospital and surgical costs that would not be paid by her basic insurance plan. There was no choice other than for me to pony up the money so they would schedule the needed surgery. Without the surgery she would not be able to return to work and would join the ranks of the unemployed.
Yesterday, my wife took her to the hospital at 5:30AM for the surgery. At the hospital admitting desk, the nice lady behind the desk asked for yet another $1,000 down payment against the hospital portion of the bill that would not be covered by insurance.
It seems that my daughter had committed not one, but two major sins that caused this financial dilemma.
Major Sin number One: She got a job. She is employed even though her job pays almost nothing for 30 hours of work after payroll deductions.
Major Sin number Two: She pays for medical insurance that pays only a small percentage of the actual costs of medical care. Her health care policy reads like a comedy when I finally was able to read it. There are more pages describing what they don’t cover than pages describing what they do cover.
The surgery was done yesterday, but we have no idea what the final unpaid balance will be. I am certain my wallet will be considerably lighter after all of the bills arrive.
Situation # 2
There is a young couple that lives in our neighborhood that have become friends of ours. They are both really great young people with limited education and no real skills to sell. They are not married, and ironically, she gave birth to a baby girl on the same day my daughter had her surgery and at the very same hospital.
She works for minimum wage at an elder care facility and he is unemployed. They both collect food stamps and get financial assistance for their housing.
Now here comes the difference between this young couples and my daughter’s medical situation.
The entire cost for the delivery of this baby including all of the prenatal care and hospital charges was $00.00. Yep, not one penny cost for any of the medical expenses. I don’t begrudge them any of this free care because the State makes it available to those in their financial position.
Comparing these two situations led me to my new understanding of how things really work these days.
If one can’t find a decent job that provides full time work at a decent rate of pay, and health insurance that actually pays something when needed, he or she would be better off to be unemployed with no medical insurance or assets at all.
With this in mind, is it any wonder why so many choose to stay unemployed and collect as many entitlements as they can? For this group, the doctors and hospital welcomes them with open arms because they know they will be paid by the State. Perhaps they are paid at a discounted rate, but they do get paid something.
Any employed person working for minimum wage with no health insurance has a difficult time finding health services for anything other than an extreme emergency situation. They are only given emergency care because the law says they must be provided with lifesaving emergency services.
Bottom line is that we now have a society where many intentionally choose to stay below the poverty level. This is the best place for them to be if they are concerned about suitable medical care for themselves and their children. This is their medical insurance. If they rise above this level, their free medical care is gone. It seems we have now arrived at the point where some are more likely to get adequate medical care when they are unemployed, dead broke, and have no assets of their own.
Am I alone or does anyone else see how twisted and messed up this is? Part of the reason medical costs are so high for those able to pay is they must help make up the cost for all of those unable to pay anything at all.
Will the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) do anything to fix this mess or will it make it worse? There will still be those unable to pay the premiums for their own medical insurance, and they will depend on others to pay the premiums for them. Not much different than the way things work today. Those who can, pay inflated rates to cover the expenses of those who are unable to pay.
With more and more companies cutting their employees hours to 30 or less to avoid the high cost of Obamacare, there will be even more of those whom are unable to pay the premiums for their mandatory health care insurance.
With the little knowledge I have on the internal workings of Obamacare, I don’t see it as the answer to high cost medical care at this time, but let’s hope I am wrong. I see it shifting the burden from paying higher rates for medical care to paying higher rates for insurance to cover those who can’t pay for their own policy. So other than changing who receives the money, what has really changed?
Please don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that every citizen of this country should not receive proper medical care when they need it. I’m saying that as more and more are unable to afford the premiums fewer and fewer will be able to help make up the difference.
And I’m not saying that no changes in our health care system are needed. If anything ever needed a major renovation, it is our current health care system. I just think this whole Obamacare thing was poorly planned, improperly executed, and it is not ready for implementation.
I would hope that those who wrote the rules and regulations on Obamacare never attempt to build a sky scraper. They have no concept of the fact that the first step in building most anything is a proper foundation. It also helps to have a good set of detailed plans on hand so at least they would know how tall and how wide the building is supposed to be. Obamacare is actually being implemented from the top down, and the plans keep changing by the day. My guess is that by the time Obamacare is fully in place, it will look nothing like the original drawings our politicians voted on without reading.
As always, your comments are appreciated...