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The Continuing Health-Care Debacle in America

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Today, I discovered yet again how unsavory the health-insurance industry is and lamented even more the deleterious effects of Scott Brown's election to the U. S. Senate from my home state of Massachusetts.

It was last September 1st that my health insurer forced me to accept a new insurance plan with a $3,000 deductible, in which my monthly premiums remained essentially unchanged. This is what is known as a catastrophic health insurance plan. I pay the first $3,000 for all health-care bills in a fiscal year, after which my health insurance then kicks in. However, there was an exception. For all preventive office visits, I would be charged the usual $20 co-pay and nothing more. My health insurer wasn't being altruistic. Preventive visits can catch conditions early, hence saving my health insurer big money in the long run.

A few days later, I had my routine annual physical. I paid the $20 co-pay. After the examination, my primary physician told me she wanted me to come back in five months to have my blood pressure re-checked.

A week after that, I had a routine dermatological body exam, because I play a lot of outdoor tennis. It's better to catch basal- and squamous-cell, as well as melanoma carcinomas, early. After I paid the $20 co-pay, a physician's assistant spent about five minutes looking over my skin. He found a few basal cells, which he zapped with liquid nitrogen.

Today, I showed up for the blood-pressure follow up. As I paid the $20 co-pay, I was asked if I wanted to pay the $280 balance on my account. What balance? The dermatological visit, I was told. But wasn't that a preventive visit, I asked?

I was put in touch with my health-insurance company. I was informed that a dermatological body-exam visit was not considered preventive. It was considered a visit for "treatment or condition." I replied it was neither for treatment or a condition. It was purely preventive. Nope, I was told. That's how my health insurer defines it. I then asked about the blood-pressure follow up, which was clearly a part of my original annual physical. Nope, I was told. I would be charged $250 to have a nurse's assistant strap a blood-pressure cuff around my arm.

My blood boiling, I cancelled my follow-up visit, got my $20 co-pay back, and walked out the door.

The health-insurance industry--which has lobbied hard to kill health reform, as it lobbied hard 50 years ago to kill Medicare--is a cancer on our society. Health reform--actually single payer--is the cure.

Virtually every industrialized nation in the world has universal health care, except the United States. Even the much maligned Cuba has it.

Now that Scott Brown--who voted for Massachusetts universal health-care legislation as a state senator--has been elected to the U. S. Senate, the Republican filibuster is secure, along with the cancer that is the scourge of America.