Thursday, March 5, 2009

Health Care costs. Do the math, and engage your brain.

I was on my way back to the house after dropping the kids off at school this morning, and I heard this story on NPR.

It's a sad, sad story about how health insurance is costing more and more. How paying health insurance premiums is eating up more and more of an employee's total compensation package. About how, if health care premiums would just drop, and the amount that the insurance company paid stayed the same, employees could make more in take-home pay.

An electrical contracting firm was interviewed in the article, very sad story. The cost of health insurance for the firms employees has gone up, and the amount covered has gone down. The owner said she would love to be able to pay the employees more, but so much of what the company makes goes into paying the insurance premiums.

Well. Let us take the business owner at her word, since she is on NPR and therefore presumably NOT a greedy capitalist, despite being a business owner.

Twenty minutes later, I heard this article on the same NPR station. Now, let us ask the question that was left out of the "snoring causes poor quality sleep" article.

"Were the treatments for snoring covered by health insurance?"
"How much did the diagnosis and treatment cost, in total?"
"How much did you, the consumer, pay out-of-pocket for those diagnoses and treatments?"
"How much did your insurance company pay for those diagnoses and treatments?"
"Are you satisfied with the care you received for these sleeping disorders?"
"What would you have done if your health insurance had not covered treating these disorders?"
"Would it have been worth it to you to pay for the entire treatment out of pocket?"

And finally:

"Do the producers of NPR realize the cognitive dissonance created by juxtaposing an article that complains of how expensive health insurance is, with an article detailing expensive (presumably) treatments for quality of life issues, rather than actual critical care issues? Do the listeners of NPR realize the disconnect here, or do they accept both as gospel and blithely drive on by?"

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