Universal Sickness

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There’s a lot of talk about healthcare these days. A lot of it is political rhetoric, most of it is pure nonsense. It’s hard to look at it and see what needs to be done.

I think we can all agree that healthcare costs are out of control. For one thing, it’s nigh impossible to shop for healthcare based on price. What does your doctor charge for a visit? Don’t know? You only pay for a co-pay? Yep, me too.

But here’s the thing: if you are a private citizen with no health insurance, you get one price. If you are insured, you pay another. Your insurance has negotiated a price and all charges are based on those negotiations.

For example, I recently got a statement from my doctor. It stated that the charges for a recent visit were $56 of which I paid a $20 co-pay. The insurance company picked up the remaining $36 bucks.

I made a phone call to this same doctor and asked what the price of a visit was without insurance. $95. I called another of his offices (he has two) and inquired there. The price there was $105.

So is the cost of the visit $56, $95, or $105? How much did my insurance save me? Or the reverse of this is why should an uninsured person have a more expensive visit?

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