Sunday, July 02, 2017

Your Health Care Circa 2017

Commenter Sunny mentioned the other night that there is a change to health care deductibles. Aetna charges have risen considerably, though not being a subscriber, I can't say by how much. Cigna looks pretty high too, but maybe that's how it was before. Like most people I know, I'm on GHI-CBP, and if I read the chart correctly, it doesn't look like much for us.

That's not where I'm feeling the pinch. It's pretty inconvenient to pay 50 bucks to go to an urgent care, but it beats the hell out of waiting for hours to be seen in an understaffed, ill-equipped bargain care, or whatever they call those GHI-affiliated joints that will take you for free. Except in the Bronx, where it's tough luck, we got nothing. All I can say to my Bronx friends is you aren't missing anything.

The problem I have is that one by one, the doctors I see are dropping GHI. Last year an ENT doctor who I've been seeing for ten years told me he wasn't taking GHI anymore. This was pretty disappointing, as I'd actually followed him from a smaller practice the the ENT and Allergy Associates chain. This is a pretty good place as you're able to book online and can generally get in very quickly.

A few days ago I got a letter that the entire chain was dropping GHI, so now my daughter's allergist is now off the list as well. They kindly offered to see us out of network if we would just pay their fees, whatever they may be. Isn't that generous of them, to offer to take my money for performing a service?  In fairness, it may not be too bad, because the ENT doctor told me GHI pays a little better out of network. So once you pay a deductible of $200 for each family member, you might be OK with your $30 copay. Or maybe not, now that the whole chain is out. Who knows?

A worse problem, for me at least, is that my regular family MD is now dropping GHI. I've been seeing him for ten years and I don't feel like changing. On the other hand, holy crap why do I have health insurance if I can't use it where I need to? Is the next step to dump us all into bargain care? It's hard to say. All I know is that we need to begin negotiating a new contract next year, at a time when the city still owes all of us 75% of the back pay we didn't get ten years ago.

My wife found someone closer to home who takes our insurance, but I'm not sure. Maybe she'll be OK, but maybe the doctor will leave town, leave GHI, or possibly both. What I do know is that this system sucks. Part of the blame could go to the negotiators who upped the co-pays, I suppose, but I hope that had the effect of raising the compensation to doctors. Sometimes I hope against hope. It doesn't really matter, because despite higher co-pays, they're still dropping us.

As far as I can tell, the best solution is a move toward what the rest of the world seems to prefer--single payer. Here in the United States, the Electoral College has given us a President who lies outright about better coverage for more people. Instead, we've got a proposal to lower taxes on people who have more than enough money so we can dump tens of millions of Americans out of health care entirely.

There are a lot of reasons why Donald Trump is President. It could be Russian meddling. It could be the media's bias for noise above news. It could be any number of things. But we know Hillary Clinton's message, that we were never, ever going to get single payer, failed to draw enough voters to stop Trump.

I'm big on education, but I can't think of anything more fundamental than health. As long as the Democrats keep spouting wimpy nonsense like Hillary did, and as long as we can't even get single payer in allegedly progressive areas like California, it's gonna be an uphill battle.

UFT passed the 2014 contract before revealing the health care givebacks. After having given back, it's sorely disappointing to see our doctors dropping our plan. UFT leadership no longer has only to sell a contract. It will also have to sell union itself, having failed to elect wimpy Democrat Hillary Clinton. With that in mind, I hope they're not planning more concessions. It's not smart long-term, nor short-term. That's step one.

Step two is pushing for single payer for all. That's an environment in which union could flourish. It's all intertwined and I believe UFT officially supports it. Now if we could only start supporting candidates who support it too.
blog comments powered by Disqus