#138 – Dick Bernard: Real Time Health Care in the U.S. for a Member of the Privileged Class

Written by admin on December 29th, 2009

Overnight I’ve been involved in the never-pleasant preparations for a Colonoscopy. I’m a veteran of the procedure – family history, precautionary. If past is prelude, the preparation for the Big Event later today has been worse than the Event itself will be.

And afterwards I can eat again!

I’m a Medicare veteran, and the Colonoscopy is a Medicare procedure. My deductible has been satisfied, and most of the cost will be covered by Medicare and supplementary insurance, which we can afford to pay.

The care today will be high quality, as it was before I was on Medicare.

Just prior to Christmas, I had my annual eye exam. I’ve had cataract surgery a couple of years ago – one of the most common Medicare procedures, I hear. There, too, the care is top notch, and the cost basically covered.

I’m definitely a member of a privileged class.

Why so many of my class refuse to grant others the same access to medical care that I have is an outrage.

There is cost to medical care. Nothing is “free”, and this goes for “pensioners” too.

Recently I heard a number, sort of off-hand, that was causing concern: that every person would be forced to pay at least 8% of their income for health care. (Don’t hold me to that exact number, or what it covered – but I heard something to that effect, as we sometimes hear things.)

At any rate, this caused me to look at our family health care cost situation.

Health care is a tax deductible item in the U.S. tax code. Last year, to deduct medical, pharmaceutical and health insurance costs, those costs had to exceed 7.5% of adjusted gross income. Everything above that 7.5% was deductible.

For our family, those costs, last year, were 12%, so we had a deductible amount, and we’re basically a fairly healthy family at this point. We do have ample insurance, at our own expense, and none of it covers everything.

People on Medicare – by definition, those over 65 – have an automatic deduction from their Social Security for Medicare insurance, so Medicare isn’t “free” either. And I don’t count in the above calculation the $18,000 or so that I paid into the Medicare system in the working years before I retired 10 years ago.

Basically I have only a couple of points:

1. Every one should have to pay something for the privilege of having health care insurance. That amount should be based on how much they can afford. And, yes, they should have insurance – how that is administered is open to discussion.

2. Every one, in our supposedly world class society, should have the opportunity to have health coverage, no questions asked.

People without insurance get colon cancer, and have cataracts, too. The difference between them and me, I suppose, is that they may feel forced to wait for an exam or treatment until it’s too late….

I am happy there is an indication on the horizon that there will be substantial Health Care Reform in the making, even if it is imperfect, and just a start.

But until there is equal care for all regardless of personal financial circumstances, there is no true “justice for all” in this country of mine.

Off to coffee (without cream). It’s legal….