Monday, January 11, 2010

Who's the Putz with Obamacare?

I feel like a putz.

I have been self-employed for more than two decades, and thus have purchased my own health insurance. I always bought the highest deductible allowed to minimize my premiums, so in effect, self-insured for all but catastrophic illness or injury.

I have not filed a single health claim since the mid-80's -- until recently -- and boy did I ever get an education in the health care industry.

Typically I spent several thousand dollars a year on health care. A complete blood work up ran me close to $400. An unexpected injury visit to the doc could run $200-$250. Regular doctor visits typically cost $160 -$185.

To save everyone a lot of paperwork, I just handed over my credit card after each visit, figuring if I should ever hit my deductible one year, I would file everything then. In the meantime, look how considerate I was to save the doc's and insurance company all that unnecessary work.

I don't even remember why I finally handed over my insurance card, but did I ever get a "Stupid Tax" education. As a cash payer, with no paperwork to file, I paid full retail all these years. Now that I am filing, here are a couple of recent bills:

1. Annual checkup - Billed $225.00: Insurance company lopped off $87.62, paid $128.63 (which I didn't realize they would) and my bill came to $8.75. Savings: $216.25, or 96%.
2. Lab bill - $95.00: Insurance company refuses $62.32 and paid the $32.68 balance, though I don't know why since I didn't hit my deductible. Savings 100%.

Summary: last two medical bills totalled $320, which I would have paid back when I was the nice, considerate cash payer. Now that the doctors have to do all the paperwork and wait for the money, I only paid $8.75, or only 2.7%, even though I never came close to hitting my $3500 deductible last year.

Let's set aside the lunacy of financially punishing the cash payer for a moment. Let's instead consider the fact that by using my insurance card, I felt virtually no financial pain for seeing the doctor. Sounds like what's being promised with the Obamacare bill. Everyone gets fabulous health coverage for less money. The only problem with the numbers, is that since everyone has to sign up, there won't be any putz's like me to subsidize the rest. The numbers simply cannot add up without either skyrocketing rates or rationed health care.

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