Monday, March 5, 2012

Another Reason Health Care Is So Expensive (needlessly)

We have all heard dozens of reasons health care is so much more expensive these days. But one thing they are not talking about is "The Scam".

That's right - patients are being regularly scammed every time they have a health issue. And the scam goes something like this:

"Yes, the doctor can see you. We'll make an appointment to look at the problem." Then another appointment to DEAL with the problem. And yet another appointment to check up on your "progress"

And in most cases, it could all have been completed in just one visit.

Here is a real-life example from just this morning. My wife lost a filling. Now, it was not long ago you could pop into any dentist's office and in 5 minutes he would take an x-ray, and 15 minutes later he would be packing a new filling. You're done.

But not today. Today it's "We'll set an appointment to LOOK at it, and take x-rays. Then we'll set another appointment (in other words, another costly office visit) to have the tooth filled."

Two costly office visits to perform one simple task that for a century only took minutes, but suddenly requires repeated visits. And that, my friend, is "the Scam".

This scam differs somewhat from one health professional to another. The biggest scam is that you simply cannot make an appointment directly with a specialist. No. You have to see a general prractitioner, first, and get "referred". Understand, you already know what specialist you need, but you cannot connect directly - you must pay other doctors, first.

And in many cases you get the "shuffle" - your general practitioner sends you to an expensive throat specialist. After he gets his hand in your pocket, he tells you that you need to see a different health professional for some additional treatment of sorts. And before you know it, you have seen - and paid - for several health practitioners to help you deal with a simple problem.

And they do these things because insurance lets them get away with it. If you had to pay the doctors out of your own pocket, you would never put up with it. But thanks to insurance, which just pays out, no questions asked, these medical miscreants can perpetrate as much fraud as they want.

I do not know what the solution is, but I think it begins with we, the people, starting to demand answers and accountability. Do not just shrug it off because your insurance company is paying - that just increases premiums. When you seek medical help, act as if the cost were coming directly out of your pocket. Hold practitioners accountable. Let them know you will not put up with unnecessary expense.

But it will ttake all of us to make a difference. We need to act together.


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