Letter: Obamacare gives insurers leverage
As a physician in private practice, I have known for many years how totally broken our health care system is. It took a recent personal experience to crystallize the extent of the debacle.
My 21-year-old son, an avid Ultimate Frisbee player, landed badly on his knee. Despite several days of icing, the knee remained swollen and he went to his college health service. The service thought it might be infected and sent him to the university hospital emergency room. Providers took an X-ray, tapped the joint and admitted him for intravenous antibiotics. Luckily, the culture came back negative, and after one night in the hospital he was released on oral antibiotics.
Several weeks later, I received the hospital bill of $15,692.25. Because I am lucky enough to afford health insurance, the hospital was paid at a rate negotiated by the insurance company that amounted to 80 percent of its "allowable" charges, or $4,637.09. The insurer expected me to pay the co-payment of $1,159.25. Had my son not been insured, I would have been on the hook for the full $15,692.25 for his one-day encounter with our health care system.
If the hospital's cost for delivering these services approached $16,000, why would it agree to accept one-third of that amount from the insurer? If I could not afford health insurance, how could I be expected to pay $16,000 for a one-night hospital stay? As perhaps more people are moved into the insured population under Obamacare, will hospitals be forced to cut services, since they will not be able to negotiate reasonable reimbursements from insurance monopolies?
The insurance industry continues to pay its executives millions of dollars. Their profits skim billions of dollars that should pay for care. Yet their behavior is rewarded through Obamacare by giving them access to millions of uninsured patients.
Dr. Jeffrey Willig, Woodbury