Power-mad dictators and rip-off merchants

posted in: Life and things | 0
Picture from Pexels

Covid is here to stay, folks. We’ll have to learn to live with it. But it’s well and truly time our lords and masters took a long, hard look at themselves and their draconian rules and regulations. In the latest of several such heartless, unnecessary actions, a man from Canada received news his mother was dying in a Queensland hospital. It’s hard to get into Australia at the moment. Not many planes are coming in and the cost of seats is at a premium. He had to fly through Sydney to get here and was given help and support by the covid authorities there. But Queensland? On no. He couldn’t get into Queensland without doing the quarantine tango. His mother died before he could see her.

This is disgraceful. It’s time authorities stopped being power-mad dictators and started managing the situation. Read the story here.

Now that I’ve calmed down, let’s talk about rip-off merchants.

There’s been a worrying trend in Australia lately with health providers inching closer to the model used in America. We already have anaesthetists charging extra for very simple services. The last time Pete had stents inserted, on the day before the op he was asked/told to pay extra for the anaesthetist. He was unimpressed to say the least and gave the anaesthetist a choice – take what our medical insurance offered, or he’d settle for a local. She grudgingly accepted the deal. But that was for an operation where local anaesthetic was acceptable and the patient was prepared to argue. Not everyone does.

I read an article in the Wall Street Journal the other day which gave a terrifying glimpse of what pay-as-you-go health care looks like. Raul Macias, who didn’t have medical insurance, was rushed to emergency. He had a potentially life-threatening tear in the lining of an artery. He was in hospital for three days. His total bill was US$59,800.

“Hospitals typically charge different customers different prices for the exact same service, with big discounts for some but not others. Those rates—and wide pricing differences—were confidential until Jan. 1, when a new federal rule required hospitals to make prices public. The newly public prices allow for the first time a comparison of what deep-pocketed insurers pay hospitals versus rates that hospitals set for patients who pay cash. Time and time again, the Journal’s analysis revealed, cash payers are charged among the highest prices.” [WSJ July 7, 2021]

The article quotes Mary Daniel, who is chief executive of ClaimMedic, which helps patients negotiate payment with hospitals. “It’s really criminal, the mess that our current system is in. It is a deliberate attempt by these hospitals to gouge the uninsured.”

Medical insurance companies negotiate prices with the hospitals and they are significantly lower than those paid by the uninsured. The justification for this is that people with health insurance are already paying a premium for treatment, which is true enough. But here in Australia, if you do not have private health insurance, you pay an extra levy from your wages. And any of us can attend an emergency clinic if we need to, at no further charge. Private insurance enables us to jump the waiting list and have treatment at a private hospital. Some of the waiting lists, for even vital surgery like hip replacements, are very long.

That’s just part of it. In America, insurers can insist that patients with medical cover take the cheapest option, not the best option for a condition.

Then there’s the cost of pharmacy drugs or medicines. We do pay more for some medicines than Americans, but overall our Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme gives us access to treatment that only the wealthiest people could afford.

We really, really don’t want to go down the American health care route. We have an election coming up sometime in the next year. Aussies, make sure your local member understands that copying America’s health care system is not an option.

Wimbledon has been important for tennis fans. Me, tennis rates slightly higher than Formula 1 motor racing, both of which are below watching grass grow. But I’m delighted that the eminently likeable Ash Barty, who doesn’t throw tantrums or her racket, is in the final. Go Ash!

Then there’s the Euro Cup thingy with the round ball game. England defeated Denmark to make the grand final against Italy. Apparently, the Poms are all very pleased. However, some idiot in the crowd shone a laser pointer at the eye of the Denmark keeper during a penalty. That is absolutely disgusting. I think the person responsible should be taken to court.

And that’s yer lot for this week. Stay safe and keep on going with the jokes. We all need a laugh.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.