Could There Be a Solution?

By
Real Estate Agent with GreatWest Realty DRE# 00827565

 

 

 

The high cost of health care!  I hate thinking, talking and especially writing about this topic.  Yet, not having it in the consciousness to dissect and consider, won’t bring change either.

 

There is much discussion about how health care is disseminated among the masses, and especially its costs.  Since my early 20s, I have had some form of health insurance or another.  It began shortly AFTER the birth of my son.  At the time I became pregnant with Randy, his dad was working 5 hours a night at the local DMV, and finishing college.  I worked in a little insurance office.  Neither of our jobs provided health insurance that would cover pregnancy and childbirth.  However, the doctor was a mere $275.00 or so, and the hospital was a similar amount for delivery.  We sold the family motorcycle to pay for bringing Randy into the world.

 

Within months, we were provided Kaiser health insurance from an employer.  Things seemed really great for several years.  Kaiser Sacramento during the mid 1960s was a small one-story facility on Arden Way, near Watt Avenue.  You could get in and get out, in short order.  A couple years later, we had a daughter born at the facility. 

Soon after, Kaiser began to expand aggressively.  When my last child was born in 1970, Kaiser had just finished building a new, much larger, state of the art, multi-level clinic and hospital at its present location on Morse Avenue.    When I look around the Greater Sacramento region today, Kaiser hospitals, clinics and facilities, are in multiple locations.  Presently, Kaiser is many times larger, if not hundreds of times larger than those early days in the 1960s.  Yet, good care has continued, and I have been generally pleased with them.

But good care doesn’t coming cheaply.  And, as costs escalate, I wonder how we will be able to contain some of the expense.  Let me give an example.  Yesterday afternoon, I had an MRI.  The procedure took about 35 minutes.  It was my first MRI experience.  For those who have never had an MRI, they essentially take you behind a formidable door, which looks like no one could get in – or OUT!  The MRI machine has a slide out tray upon which you lay.  They put an IV in your arm.  Hopefully they will be lucky enough to find a good vein.  The technician was having difficulty finding any of mine yesterday. And this morning, my arms look like a jealous lover has beaten me! 

You are provided earplugs because while you travel through the machine, there are multiple thumping, banging and other loud noises emitted.  They ask in advance if you are claustrophobic.  I’m not, but by the end of the procedure, I’m surprised the inside of the machine didn’t exhibit deep permanent claw marks.

 

All this MRI hoopla because a couple of ultrasounds showed I have a Fatty Liver.  I am in the female age group, which this may happen.  However, I’ve really been studying why this may be.  I swim laps regularly and I don’t drink to excess.  But I definitely do like creamy sauces and chocolate.  And, I LOVE real butter, not that other crap.  So although, I could shed 10 pounds or so, I have this unusually fat liver.

So let’s get down to the cost - just on my side of it, as an insured person.  I am over 65 and have Medicare.  My government mandated premium for Medicare approaches $100.00 a month.  My premium for Kaiser Supplemental Care is $86.00 a month.  My health insurance premiums add up to approximately $186.00 a month to get my foot through the door.  Now, let’s add that I have a $2,500 a year deductible.  I chose this plan, because I am generally healthy, and haven’t been hospitalized in over 20 years.  My doctor visits, lab and radiology co-pays are $25.00 each.  The deductible for the MRI was $100.00. 

 

I haven’t yet determined what the actual REAL cost of the MRI was, but searching around on-line, I found that MRIs can cost up to $3,500, depending on what is being imaged.  Other than my own deductible expense, I have no idea the actual cost, of the two previous ultra sounds I’ve had. 

I have meandered here folks, and I have no real solutions as to how we may contain costs, other than we go back to the days when you could have a baby for $550.00, and pay for it by selling a used motorcycle.  BUT, I am wondering if we couldn’t save a few bucks on this medical imaging stuff, by merely buying a ticket from Sacramento to Las Vegas, and going through the airport body scanners instead:-)  I would suggest getting scanned from Vegas to Sacramento, but they say, “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas,” and I would need the results sent to my doctor:-)

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Rainmaker
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Valerie Zinger
House Proud Ottawa-Ontario-Canada - Ottawa, ON
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Myrl. Being in Canada means that I cannot comment on your system. BUT. I pve you Vegas comment and what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. Hole it is good news that your liver is fine.
Jun 17, 2012 03:34 AM #1
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Richard Iarossi
Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage - Crofton, MD
Crofton MD Real Estate, Annapolis MD Real Estate

Myrl,

Last year I was hospitalized for a kidney stone. Painful, but certainly not life threatening. My medical insurance has a $500 deductible and my first (of many) bills was for $538 for something called, "observation." Since I was stuck for $500 of that one bill, I questioned exactly what "observation" meant, and how long the doctor observed me. As it turns out, after several challenges and weeks, nobody knew, and although they adamently said that it was valid, they reduced the bill to $80 for customer service. BS...the medical profession billing procedures are bizarre, at best, criminal at worst. 

BTW, after failed attempts at nuking it, I still have the stone. We have an agreement, he doesn't bother me and I'll let him live in my kidney.

Glad your OK.

Rich

Jun 17, 2012 03:42 AM #2
Anonymous
Anonymous
Anonymous
Great blog and great job. Keep up the good work and good luck to you this year. Thanks
Jun 17, 2012 03:56 AM #3
Rainmaker
720,081
Kwee Huset
Kwee Huset Realty - Venice, FL
Venice Florida Homes For Sale

Mryl, I hope you are well. Health care insurance is just too expensive, many people are uninsured.

Jun 17, 2012 04:16 AM #4
Rainmaker
1,188,942
Myrl Jeffcoat
GreatWest Realty - Sacramento, CA
Greater Sacramento Real Estate Agent

Valerie - As much as our health insurance companies have maligned the Canada health care model, I envy components of it!  Especially, the part where presecription medications manufactured in the US, cost Canadians half as much as they do in your country.  The reason, your system has a single payer, who provides clout in negotiating those prices downward.  The whole Vegas thought came halfway in the MRI process, in the midst of banging, clanking, and other loud obnoxious noises:-)

Richard - Years ago, when my dad was hospitalized, he thought it was nice when a doctor came in each morning, looked at his chart, and said good morning.  He never examined dad, or touched him.  Just that little 3 minute gesture.  It wasn't until the billings came, that we saw the hefty amount charged for each of those "Good mornings."   I have almost come to believe in some sad way, we were a little better off when most folks didn't have insurance.  The fee was between doctor and the patient, or the hospital and patient.  And they were more reasonable.  Unfortunately, because we are insured, it makes it easier to escallate prices.

Kwee - The American health care system is likely one of the best, but the most costly, and access to that care can sometimes be difficult.  In the U.S. no one, insured or not, can be denied emergency room care.  Therefore, the uninsured often use the emergency room as the insured would a primary care physician's visit.  But, the emergecy room is far more expensive.  We all pay for the uninsured, with higher premiums or taxes.  I was hoping for a National Health Care system, which would have managed getting everyone insured, contain the cost of services and prescriptions, while using those savings to manage premium cost.  In a way I think Obama care can/could do some of that.  But, I think if it survives the Supreme Court, Obamacare will need a great deal of tweaking to make it work efficently and properly.  Believe me the health insurance industry and the medical/hospital profession have and continue to fight Obama care all the way!

Jun 17, 2012 07:14 AM #5
Rainmaker
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Fred Carver-Top Realtor Victoria, BC
Re/Max Camosun Victoria BC Real Estate - Victoria, BC
Accredited Victoria BC Real Estate Consultant

Hi Myrl...My you look awesome for your Age, I thought you might be 55 we must be Close although I figure I'm older at 69 this August..ha, Where has all the Time gone,

I still think I'm a lot younger than many my age who don't even have email.. Many in my office find it hard to beleive i do what I do online Blogging etc, many of them still are not on Facebook of even worse Active Rain..I wandering,

Our Medical System sounds Cool, although we're seeing a lot cut out, where we have to pay for Eye exams, Hearing exams, and many medicines are not covered. If you are Diabetic you have to pay for insulin...The Canadian system is not what it appears, although the medical help is the Best we can get,even if you have to wait for many procedures like MRI's

Cheers, enjoy your day, I'm going to see if I can find some photo opportunities

Jun 17, 2012 08:26 AM #6
Rainmaker
1,188,942
Myrl Jeffcoat
GreatWest Realty - Sacramento, CA
Greater Sacramento Real Estate Agent

Fred - We are darn close in age!  I turned 69 in April!  I'm also pretty active for my age.   It is so intersting to hear the pros and cons of Canadian care.  The coverage I currently have doesn't include eye care, dental or hearing either.  But, for more money I could have that provided!  I certainly didn't need to wait for the MRI.  I had an ultra-sound on Tuesday, and on Wednesday the radiologist wanted me to go in for the MRI.  They had me go in for more blood work on Thursday, and that afternoon, someone with Kaiser called to schedule the MRI for yesteday (just 2 days wait).  When I saw the disclosure on that thing, especially the stuff they pump into you via an IV, I would have liked waiting and thinking about it, but didn't!    I'm anxious to get out there more with a camera more too!  I always enjoy your photos!

Jun 17, 2012 08:40 AM #7
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Chris Ann Cleland
Long & Foster REALTORS®, Manassas, VA - Bristow, VA
Associate Broker, Northern VA

My goodness.  At 42, I'm paying $266/mo for insurance and have a $3,000 deductible! 

Jun 17, 2012 10:16 AM #8
Rainmaker
1,188,942
Myrl Jeffcoat
GreatWest Realty - Sacramento, CA
Greater Sacramento Real Estate Agent

Chris Ann - You are right, the years from the 40s up until Medicare age are a tremendous financial burden for many.  I went through that period and fully understand.  In the years ramping up to my eligibility for Medicare, I paid as high as $375/mo, with large deductibles and high co-pays.  I feel for families, which have a child who requires special care, but has difficulty finding coverage at all.  Sometimes, I think rather than Obamacare, they should have just extended Medicare to everyone.  As much as the health care industry hates the idea of a single payer system, I think it will take that to get costs controlled.  The fear tactics put out there to the public, that is a government program, are not entirely true.  For example, my care is adminstered through Kaiser, but I could choose to select United Health Care, or a variety of other providers.  The only thing that is government, is the collection of money for the Medicare portion.  I would like seeing the emphasis of health care to be in the arena of prevention and fitness.  That is one of things that I like about Kaiser!

Jun 17, 2012 10:39 AM #9
Rainmaker
855,695
Fred Carver-Top Realtor Victoria, BC
Re/Max Camosun Victoria BC Real Estate - Victoria, BC
Accredited Victoria BC Real Estate Consultant

Hi Myrl...Thanks for dropping in and commenting on my Blog today..Love your Photos and History about your area, especially the Gold Rush days.

PS I hope nothing serious is going on with your health, hopfully you're like me and your parts are just wearing down..ha

Jun 17, 2012 12:40 PM #10
Rainmaker
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Yolanda Cordova-Gilbert
David Weekley Homes - Katy, TX
David Weekley Homes in Cinco Ranch

Myrl,

            I hope all is well and you look great I thought you were in your late 50's. I guess all we do catches up with us. I have put on some pounds and it your darn Napa Wines by husband always have a couple of glasses of wine with dinner but the last couple of weeks no more only on weekends I trying to shed the pounds as being heavy really impacts your health. I am going to the doctor on Tuesday hope all goes well. Have a great week.

Jun 17, 2012 01:54 PM #11
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Christine Donovan
Donovan Blatt Realty - Costa Mesa, CA
Broker/Attorney 800-610-7253 DRE01267479 - Costa M

Myrl - I don't know what to think about healthcare except that 11 years ago, it was $90/month for my husband an myself.  Now, a family of 4 is over $800/month for less coverage.  How does that make sense?

 

P.S. - I hope all turns out well with your liver.

Jun 17, 2012 07:29 PM #12
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William Johnson
RE/MAX Associates - San Diego, CA
San Diego Real Estate Voice, GRI CRS e-Pro CDPE

Hi Myrl, That was an intriguing story and when I got to the end, I was LOL. But perhaps the scan from the ariport might not be good enough to locate the liver ( or much else beyond one privates) , or if the liver has too much fat around it. As for the costs, it can only get worse. Perhaps homeowners that are upside down could trade the future potential of the value of their home for medical treatments. :-)

Jun 17, 2012 08:43 PM #13
Rainmaker
1,188,942
Myrl Jeffcoat
GreatWest Realty - Sacramento, CA
Greater Sacramento Real Estate Agent

Fred - I think you are right about the wearing down effect.  At the fitness club I go to, they have Water Arobics classes, and they also have an Arthritis class very similar to Water Arobics.  I don't have arthritis, but sometimes I end up taking the class, if the hour is right.  It's not as fast paced as the main water aerobics class.  I had to laugh because the class instructor said a few weeks ago, "This figure 8 move is really good for degenerative arthritis."  I'd hear little voices from the participants confirming they had one form of degeneration or another.  Finally, I piped up and said, "I guess we are all just a bunch of degenerates."  Since then, the arhritis class is called, "The Degenerates."  I feel a little bad about that because I don't have the disease, and I could simply schlep off from the class, and they'd be left with that label:-)

Yolanda - I agree with you!  It is amazing how losing a few pounds can impact your health in such positive ways.  I notice it right away! 



Jun 18, 2012 12:55 AM #14
Rainmaker
1,188,942
Myrl Jeffcoat
GreatWest Realty - Sacramento, CA
Greater Sacramento Real Estate Agent

Christine - Ain't it the truth!  I remember paying $79.00 a month for premiums.  And I don't know how some families manage the premiums.  I know one family of 4.  There youngest daughter was born with a slight heart problem, which was remedied with a procedure, but she is virtually uninsurable, unless it costs hundreds and hundreds. 

William - I suspect the airport scanners won't quite do the job needed, YET!  But with a little tweaking, they might be able to:-)  Seriously, when the frustration over these matters gets to a certain level with me, all I can do is try to find some outrageous humor in it. . .Sometimes all we can do is laugh!

Jun 18, 2012 01:00 AM #15
Rainmaker
2,054,829
Roy Kelley
Realty Group Referrals - Gaithersburg, MD
Roy and Dolores Kelley Photographs

Thanks for sharing your thoughts.  Many of us have seen people fail to accept ordered prescriptions because of lack of funds.

Have an outstanding week with your camera in hand.

Jun 18, 2012 04:58 AM #16
Rainmaker
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Elizabeth Weintraub Sacramento Real Estate Agent, Top 1% of Lyon Agents
Lyon Real Estate - Sacramento, CA
Put 40 years of experience to work for you

I'll be 60 in another 10 days. I'm paying $1500 a month for my husband and me through the Sacramento Board of REALTORS for insurance, so your premium sounds pretty reasonable to me, Myrl.  Enough about the crazy world of insurance and how much an MRI might cost, Myrl, how serious is this fatty liver disease? I am so sorry. Is there any treatment?

Jun 18, 2012 06:48 AM #17
Rainmaker
1,188,942
Myrl Jeffcoat
GreatWest Realty - Sacramento, CA
Greater Sacramento Real Estate Agent

Elizabeth - I feel fortunate I have the health care that I do, at a cost that it is.  LIke I said to Chris Ann, I remember the premiums leading up to the point of Medicare, and they weren't fun!  The premiums for you and your husband seem so outrageous.  That calculates to $18,000 a year, just to get your foot through the medical door.  The "treatment" for fatty liver disease is diet and exercise.  Kaiser recommends 150 minutes of exercise a week.  I have averaged 450 minutes a week for several years, so that is not an issue because I swim.  Because I am a serious foodie, the diet and my recipes are going to be under seige.  I've already bi-passed the butter section of the grocery store, and bought one of those little yellow tubs of that horrible substitute stuff.  Who thinks of these names, "I Can't Believe It's Not Butter?". . .Give me a break:-)

Roy - It's no secret that access to health care and needed prescriptions are a challenge to many.  There needs to be some remedy for that!

Jun 18, 2012 07:44 AM #18
Rainmaker
2,054,829
Roy Kelley
Realty Group Referrals - Gaithersburg, MD
Roy and Dolores Kelley Photographs

I hope you are having an outstanding week.

Jul 05, 2012 05:22 PM #19
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Rainmaker
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Myrl Jeffcoat

Greater Sacramento Real Estate Agent
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