By Ken Ehrenthal
Recently, my wife gave me a card. It looked like a credit card. She told me that it was a card that I should use whenever I had to pay a doctor or purchase some prescription drugs. It was part of a “medical savings account” supplied by her employer. I’m not sure if it was an account she put money into or whether her employer put in money as a perk.
Several weeks ago, I received a letter from my Pension plan provider, The State of Connecticut, informing me of a change in my dental plan. Membership cards would be forthcoming. I just received a bill from my own medical care provider for a visit I made to by “primary care” doctor for a new prescription drug for my neurological pains, and for my “pacemaker” test, from my Cardiologist. I also use the services of EVMS’s Glennan Geriatric Center twice a year. I am also, since I am over 65, on Medicare.
My wife works for two different hospital groups in this area. For Sentara she is a certified lactation consultant and for Bon Secours she is a Pregnancy educator. As such she received a health plan from her major position at Sentara. My father-in-law is a veteran and uses either the Naval Hospital or the Veteran’s Hospital. There are also times he is admitted to Sentara Norfolk General Hospital. I live in Chesapeake, and in Chesapeake there is an independent regional hospital, as well as a branch of CHKD, a children’s hospital.
I listed all of these programs and health providers, to point out, what I consider, an interesting phenomenon in the United States. In all these cases there are different health providers and different ways to pay these providers. In each case, each provider and payer, have their own rules, their own bureaucracies and their own policies and procedures that I, as a client, have got to be aware of. We call this a free enterprise system.
If Rube Goldberg tried to come up with a more ridiculous system even he would fail. For anyone to make any sense of the health care system he or she would have to be a PhD in economics. Fortunately, my relatives and I don’t have to purchase health insurance. We should add that and then of course Medicaid and Famis (in Virginia). When are we going to demand from our law makers, and our medical providers, and “stake holders” in this system, some practical ways to stop this nonsense? When will it be easier to understand?