Actually in my State it is a middle of the road price. It also covers myself and my wife.
Interestingly the price was lower until Obama Care was passed. Because of the requirement to insure everyone without consideration of previous medical conditions the insurance companies immediately raised their premiums. So while my premium was in the $600 per month range prior to the passing of the Health Care Act, within 4 months of it passing my insurance premium climbed to its current price. So, though it appears that we are heading toward the brave new world of universal health care it will actually cost most young people less to pay the fine and go without than to actually pay the premium for the medical coverage.
But, I still get to pay the higher premiums anyway.
The last time I had to pay my own way, it was >$800/mo for my wife and me. This was a high-end policy with hardly any out of pocket expense. Just last year I was helping my 25-year old find insurance and a catastrophic policy with high deductibles was $40-150/mo. Every little benefit stepped up from the bottom added a few dollars to the cost. Insurance that will save a young, reasonably healthy person from bankruptcy due to catastrophic illness is really very cheap. But if you want a Cadillac policy, you will pay a Cadillac price.
And when I was paying that high price, I was working on a contract at a big biotech drug company. It was very educational. The costs of developing a new drug are truly staggering.
Imagine an ultimate nerd splices a gene from a turnip into an amoeba. He thinks it might make the amoeba shit some chemical that will cure cancer. Grow those amoebas in a test tube. Then in a jar. Then in a jug. Finally in a 5,000 gallon tank. Then some other geniuses have to figure out how to filter a half-pint of bug shit out of that 5,000 gallon tank. Do this several times until you have enough to see if it really works. Have some other geniuses figure out just how you will know if it works or not. Wait 10 years. Did it work? Repeat.
A lot of just plain ignorance out there how the system works, plus tons of hot air now that it's a
hotbutton election issue. I'll stay out of that because it's obviously political in nature. But I can
give a good idea of why drugs cost what they do - R&D, certification, and liability. My office is right
across the tracks from some of the biggest pharmaceutical outfits in the world. This is the epicenter.
The average drug takes 500 million to develop, and then if something goes wrong, it can cost billions
in lawsuits. So it takes a LOT of profit to turn a buck in the long haul. And you'd be absolutely amazed at the level of quality control (at least in this neigborhood). My wife worked for several years
in quality control in a designer prototyping lab, and the trade secret and lab equip investment was
staggering. Her office was literally inside a vault, and the vials of serum were worth on the avg
about $40,000 per ten grams. Take that to the next level, say, mass production at someplace like
Bayer, and a 5-gallon bucket is worth about 5 million at production level. A single hair or bit of dust
in that, and it would all get thrown out! The floors are stainless steel and steam cleaned before every batch. So it get pretty involved.
Another quality-control anecdote, just for you folks who complain about having to control dust on film or in a darkroom: In the Pharmaceutical plant next door, when they suit up for production in the
cleanroom, nobody can enter or exit until the end of the entire run, even if it takes 12 hrs - no batrhroom or lunch breaks, or the entire batch gets discarded and they clean the lab from scratch.
Each factory floors has huge HEPA dust hoods to scrub the air. Before production, the quality guys
come in, put on a brand new pair of white gloves and run their finger on the inside rim of the dust
hood. If the glove shows any stain,dirt, or dust at all, you're fired.
This is a very tricky number that the Congressional Budget Office says grossly misstates the situation. We have to be very careful to understand what it really is.
Originally Posted by Ken Nadvornick
First, it is not 50 million. It is closer to 46 million.
2nd, it is not always the same people being uninsured. The CBO says that 45 percent of those uninsured at any point in time will be insured within four months.
3rd, not all of the uninsured need a new government program. The Urban Institute found that 25 percent of the uninsured already qualify for existing government health insurance programs. Blue Cross Blue Shield reports similar numbers.
4th, more than 17 million of the uninsured make at least $50,000 per year (the median household income of $50,233) – 8.4 million make $50,000 to $74,999 per year and 9.1 million make $75,000 or higher. Why are they uninsured? I don't know.
5th, nearly 10 million (9.7) of the 45.7 million uninsured are “not a citizen.” Whether or not you and I have a responsibility to these people can be debated.
So the Gorilla is more like 300 lbs. That's still a pretty big gorilla.
I work for the largest Catholic health care system in the US. I am not taking sides in the debate, but only pointing out that in having the debate, we need to be much more careful with the numbers we throw around. When an average citizen uses this number, it's simply because they are ill-informed. But any politician or person who is knowledgeable of the health care industry and uses this number, is a damned liar.
Why are they uninsured???? And will be insured in four months???? A typical private family premium comparable to employee benefits would cost $30,000 per year with a 5,000 deductible and 250K lifetime cap. Lose your job and a single serious illness will bankrupt you for decades. Yeah, you can
go onto Cobra for a year or so for about $1200 per month per person, but how long can that last if you're out of a job. Lots of heath care workers don't even have health insurance, unless they're unionized. If you're conspicuously poor there are sometimes provisions, but anyone middle-class with a health issue who loses their job is gonna become poor really fast, because there's a huge gap in coverage for them until they're old enough for Medicare to kick in. It's easy enough to go from a modest six-figure income to outright homeless over a single health incident. Seen it happen plenty of
times around here, and we've got the strongest economy in the country.
For those who don't know, COBRA is a federal law which allows continuation of insurance for a period of time after someone leaves a job for any reason. The former employee takes over the premiums, plus as much as 10% for administrative costs.
Originally Posted by DREW WILEY
Over here everybody has full entitlement to full health care coverage. I'm unemployed and I have total coverage for any kind of disease or cure. I could remain unemployed until the end of my days, which could be in 60 years time, and I would still be entitled to everything. Being relatively young (under 50) if I got certain forms of cancer I would be given one of those unbelievably expensive cancer treatments. I know it because a very dear friend of mind died last year, at my age, at his 4th cancer, and he was given that kind of treatment (a "cycle" costed something like €300.000 that's three hundreds thousands IIRC).
Originally Posted by Steve Smith
The point repeated by PE about some people going to the US to get cure is IMO a red herring.
First, one have to see whence they come from.
Second, one has to see if other countries have people coming from abroad to get cure. Cuba, Italy, the UK and I presume Germany and other countries do get people coming from abroad for hospitalization. (Maradona and Chavez did not go to the US, and they didn't have a money problem).
Third, icebergs of excellence do not speak for the average coverage for the average citizen. I could say, by the same logic, that Italy makes the best cars in the world because people come from all over the world to buy cars here. That's true for Ferrari, Maserati, Lamborghini etc. But these are not the average car you see in the street or at the car dealer.
If we make a reductio ad absurdum one could argue that if the US had so expensive a system that only rich foreigners could afford it, it would nonetheless be possible to claim, by this reasoning, that it must be the best in the world because many people take a plane to use it. For the curious, more than 80% of Ferrari cars, probably 90% are sold to foreign citizens.
The fact that there are excellent hospitals in the US does not mean that the US medical system is excellent. It just means that there are some very good and very expensive health care providers in the US and those for whom money is not a problem do find them excellent.
Regarding the "market price" of medical treatments, the US must be, again, a world exception. In Italy like I believe all over Europe and presumably all over the world the price of each medical treatment is established by a Government decree. That doesn't prevent Europe from having many pharmaceutical firms some of them huge like Novartis and GlaxoSmithKline etc. Frankly I don't think that they rely on the US market to fund their research.
Finally, I am not that surprised that in the US a broken arm costs more than more complex, but not "emergency" interventions. That might easily happen if the hospital can refuse non-emergency treatments but cannot refuse to provide emergency treatments and if the hospital will end up with unpaid bills if the Public Money does not come at the rescue. That will naturally push the hospital to raise the price of emergency treatments because those who pay must pay also for those who don't pay. Those who don't pay are - as explained - those who cannot afford to have preventive medicine, and they do "overuse" the emergency care making the cost spiraling up. Mind you I'm not saying I know the US system enough to say this mechanism is in place. I suspect there must be some mechanism of this kind in place, and I ask: is the hospital "covered" by Father State in case of unpaid emergency care bills?
I do not pay for my own any more but a couple of years ago, it was $3000 - $3600 per month for very good coverage for my wife and I and our two kids. That was a couple of years ago. I am certain that it would cost more now.
Originally Posted by Pioneer
Part of our problem is not only that the insurance industry has become a gigantic octopus of a
beauracracy in its own right, but that for every doctor out there there is an ambulance-chasing
lawyer. The insurance companies will allow a doctor or medic only eight minutes per patient by contract, or you pay a hefty fine out of reinbursments. If something doesn't get detected, even if
a rare condition, or if there's a misdiagnosis, you run the risk of being sued. So what do doctors
and PA's routinely do: routinely order the most expensive tests like MRI's just to cover themselves
against liability. And there's plenty of slackers out there looking for any excuse possible to sue
someone. I believe we need malpractice laws to protect the public from fraud and incompetence,
but this has gotten wildly out of hand, and the cost of all these special services and related state
of the art equipment is a staggering investment to hospitals. So I agree ... we've probably got the
best gear, but certainly not the best system. People die waiting in line in emergency rooms.