Thanksgiving and Health Care Reform Debates

In a scene I could only dream was being played out in formal dining rooms across the U.S., my T-day dinner conversation was about the healthcare reform initiative chugging through the Senate. Representing the left on this issue — a young college guy who’s new job is as a waiter at a fancy restaurant. On the right — a government employee with health insurance. As in the rest of the country — the balance of the guests were somewhere in between.

Hot topic: Medicare. One of the guests parents are both on Medicare. They have no idea how much their medical bills cost because they are all paid automatically, unless they somehow want a procedure not covered by Medicare, although I could not think of one. The discussion centered about how health care consumer attitudes might change if even medicare consumers had to sign a statement ordering, and signing off on each procedure, with full accountability of the price sitting in front of them.

I’m imagining a Health Care Compliance & Accountability form that each patient signs for each procedure like:

Angioplasty $8,500.00
Hospital Stay – 1 day -$5,000 – $7000.00
PLEASE — give me a night in a cabana in Mustique for a mere $1200!

The conversation over the vegetarian entrees veered recklessly from the “free health care for anyone, anytime” group to the “don’t change anything ever” group.
But neither group, interestingly enough, could price any common hospital procedures, even thought 1/3 of the group worked in a hospital… I surmise that unless you are directly involved in billing, there is little understanding of the costs of healthcare procedures, regardless of your insurance status.

End of life issues are something of much interest to me because I have already decided the EXACT DATE I’m heading out onto the ice floe to be eaten by either polar bears or killer whales, depending which group is not yet extinct by 2018 (the year I have already picked) for my eventual eating by wild mammals.

I admit that I do not understand why old people with terrible wrinkles and horrible diseases of their own making (think diabetes, congestive heart failure, etc.) want to prolong their very uncomfortable lives for another day or another week. I suspect that they do not, but since health care is just as much of a business as a dry cleaners or a fast food restaurant — the docs are trying to sell the procedure (whatever it may be) with MRI’s, CAT and PET Scans, and several weeks of observation — in the same way that the 17 year old at the drive thru tries to get you to “Supersize” your order. Follow the money.

Which is exactly why I did a risk assessment and decided to put additional controls in place to stay healthy!

Happy Thanksgiving.