The Business of Diabetes
A matter of paying for adequate healthcare.
By Travis Grubbs
November 2010 — It's in the Godfather movies that I recall phrases like "It's just business" or "It's not personal, but business." This normally explained why someone had been gunned-down, strangled, you know…knocked-off.
I was reminded of these phrases again as I attended my diabetes support group meeting in October. Two newcomers were present; one was a middle-aged woman with type 2 and without health insurance. She relayed how she is struggling to purchase medication and pay for her doctor visits. Her husband, a registered nurse employed at a large hospital, isn't eligible for their group health insurance plan because he is a contract employee. I couldn't help but think how ironic this was, a healthcare provider's employees without health insurance. I bet that detail is not in their annual report.
The other newcomer, a mother of a child with type 1, talked about how she could not get her son covered on her family's health insurance policy because he has a pre-existing condition, her husband is self-employed, and they are not on a group health insurance policy. She spoke of how she reminds her son that he must get a good education so that he can get a good job with health benefits.
I watched as the other group members offered information on free and discounted medical care and drugs. These suggestions were normally met with a "my family income is too high" response. In our society they would need to make less money to qualify for these social programs, which would also mean that they would have less money to pay for food, housing, clothes, gas, and other living expenses.
I could not help but stare at these two women as they discussed their respective plights. Here were two individuals, trying to live in our community and in my town, without health insurance and without adequate healthcare. The problem is not with the healthcare providers, such as the doctors and nurses, but with the managers of healthcare, such as the insurers. I couldn't help but question the logic of having healthcare as a business, rationing it out based on one's ability to pay for it. Highlighted by their personal struggles, it seems to be such a cold and harsh concept.
I would say that Obama Care will adequately address these ladies' circumstances, but since I, along with the majority of politicians that voted for it, have not read it, I can't say that it will. My first impression is that it will not. I think Obama Care tried to "recreate the wheel," when all it really had to do was create another group insurance plan that was similar, or identical, to the plan it has for its own government employees. This would mean that private insurers, under contract with the federal government, would manage the plan and collect the premiums.
Since I have no preference for government run healthcare or socialized medicine, I would be fine with insurance companies creating their own group plans for those that are uninsured. This would lower premiums (as opposed to individual health insurance policies) and, with the government mandating that all citizens have health insurance coverage, get more people into the insurance pool. If the government can require all automobile drivers to have insurance, then why can't we be required to have health insurance as well?
Our country has a serious healthcare problem that affects our nation physically, financially, and morally. Denying preventive care, medical treatment, and medication to uninsured children and adults, as well as to those that make too much money, will not cause our society to grow stronger. I believe it will only cause it to further deteriorate, and result in resentment, unrest, and turmoil. Based on the actions of the healthcare managers and the insurance companies, healthcare in our country doesn't seem to function for the people, but functions as a business. Even if it harms our society.
dLife's Viewpoints columnists are not all medical experts, but everyday people living with diabetes and sharing their personal experiences, most often at a set point in time. While their method of diabetes management may work for them, everyone is different. Please consult with your diabetes care team before acting on anything you read here to find out what will work best for you.
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As I mentioned in an earlier post, one of the benefits that made it cost-effective for me to go with the real healthcare (HSA) plan rather than the phony (HRA) plan is that my company is now covering "preventative" medicines at $0 copay. The formulary for these, as stated by CVS/Caremark (my pharmacy benefits provider), covers all test strips, lancets, and control solutions. I dutifully get my doctor to write up prescriptions for all of my testing needs, submit...