Wednesday, August 17, 2005

insurance...how do u put a number on health?

just finished up reading Ashraf's article on rediff about life, health, medicine and those strikingly tense moments when you dont know what to do , whom to call and where to go in a crisis situation. And I dont know whether it was a coincidence or just something that happened, but my health insurance just expired today and I was busy running all around enquiring about the best rates, the best policy coverage for the next 30 odd days before my company policy kicks in.

Now I dont know how many of you know this or remember from civic lessons from school , but access to health care is one of every citizen's fundamental rights according to the constitution of India. In the sense if you are sick, you will get free basic health care in India. Whether you avail of this service is usually doubtful considering the fact that most middle-class people prefer private care. Look at the case in the US. You will get excellent health care services, the Emergency room is one of the most potent life-saving services in the world. But the axe will fall on you if you dont have that insurance policy by your side. I have read cases where people have been burdened with debts over 25,000 dollars because they just did not have insurance. And the fact that access to health-care is not provisioned by the Government which tries its level best to stay out of getting in the way of everyday life is surprising considering the fact that most industrialised countries place the welfare of their citizens above everything else.

Now you can view this argument in two ways, one that says, it is the private sector that brings about most innovations as far as health care goes, big pharma companies spend billions on R&D and get the new drugs out there. But its really a devil-deep sea situation ( or rock-hard place) because you need precriptions for drugs, and for the off-the shelf ones, u usually end up reading the side-effects list longer than the drug usage list itself. Its just a crazy world out there.

an X-ray costs 200 dollars, an MRI scan 1750 bucks. Now these number all put together will get to u in the end, so even if u do have a policy , its only a part of it that covers the deductible, usually an 80-20 deal. You will have to shell out 20% from your pocket. and that is a lot of money.

Weird, but me and my friends were discussing dental coverage here, and that it costs 1800 dollars to get a Root-canal. Heck! thats goin to India, getting an RC and coming back! Now who is ripping who off is the biggest question. The mess with health care has become so clear, that no amount of legislation can actually sort it out.

Health-care in India is not all rosy, mind you. In fact there are many procedures that are not offered in India, for which ppl actually come here. Health-care is big business. from a common cold to an open heart surgery.

So life does have a price..huh?

How do you put a number on health?

-shiva

4 Comments:

Blogger Kartik said...

dude, it is indeed exorbidant but the point is, if there is no limit on the coverage, then either all cannot be covered OR the economy will just DIP at 90 degrees.

So, i think there has to be a number

1:06 AM  
Blogger Pal said...

Life is priceless.

It's costs much to lead a healthy life.

2:04 AM  
Blogger the shiva said...

kartik...

but where do u draw the line between medical coverage and ripping an arm and a leg to get a heart?

pal...

thats well said..!

9:15 AM  
Blogger Kartik said...

Shiva, i think it all boils down to the expensed quoted by the doctors.

First, the medical association of America decide the number of doctors who enter the market. They decide how many people they wanna pass in the exams. i got this info from a very close associate.

Its all a circle..less doctors..more demand from patients...more charges to the patient...and then the insurance company cannot cover everything..so they pay part of it. So it is the people who are screwed in between the Medical Association of America and the insurance companies. I would not blame the insurance companies since they are doing a pretty good job in lieu of the market. The association is to blame.

2:34 PM  

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