As both a physician and small business owner, I am perplexed with the rapid rise in the cost of health care plans. I have several employees in my group plan, and have seen my costs quadruple over the last decade for coverage in a small group HMO plan. http://www.rwjf.org/pr/product.jsp?id=35368 .
Yet as a provider, I have had my reimbursements decreased across the board from Medicare to PPO’s. As a provider I can tell you I haven’t even had a cost of living increase added to my remibursement rates in the past decade. Instead we are forced to see more patients with less time for each patient, to produce more paperwork and pre-authorizations. The fact is all physicians have to see more patients to produce the same level of income year to year and to keep up with rising business costs. This is not singular to the chiropractic profession, anyone who provides services for reimbursement by health care plans has seen the same reduction in payment for procedures. So where is all the money going we spend on increased plan permiums?
Well perhaps mostly to the drug companies who are producing more drugs to combat many of the illnesses and disease processes we in fact initiate ourselves. After all, we are partly to blame. Obesity and diabetes are among all time highs, fueled by our poor eating habits and unheathly lifestyles. Some of the most prescribed and most costly drugs like the statins for cholesterol could be avoided if we ate right, exercised, and didn’t expect doctors to have a drug to fix everything. Then we have to take other drugs to counteract the side effects of the drugs we were just prescribed. These drug costs are then past back to us in the form of higher permiums for health insurance.
Health insurance companies are having record high profits and none of this is being distributed to the physicians and care givers who “work for them”. I do however want to acknowledge and be thankful for the research and development of new drugs and procedurese that fight cancer, HIV, and other serious illnesses.
So what is the answer? Perhaps, we must start by taking a stand to live healthier lives; by eating healthy, exercising, and not engaging in unhealthly activities like smoking and excessive alcohol consumption. We must decide that it’s not okay to be overweight from poor eating and lack of exercise and then expect our physicians to have a drug to bail us out. What if there were no statins or blood pressure medications? What if we were tested and knew we could die at any minute with excessively high blood pressure or cholesterol levels? Maybe we would think twice about what we do, what we eat, and how we live. But wait, we have a drug for that too, anti-anxiety meds.
Our healthcare is in crisis; we can chose to change our lifestyles and habits, or we can continue to pay for the drugs and diagnostic tests and make the drug companies and insurance companies CEO’s millionaires.