Sunday, December 07, 2008

Collateral Damage

[Welcome Tenant Manager Online readers!]

Home foreclosures.

Job loss.

Bank failures.

Health care providers are feeling the squeeze like many others.

Georgia hospitals, doctors and other medical providers are reporting financial pain from an increase in patients who can’t pay bills —- or who postpone care.

That trend stems, in part, from the rise in Georgia’s unemployment rate, which has swelled the ranks of those without health insurance. In addition, many Americans who have insurance face higher deductibles and other out-of-pocket costs, making a medical bill harder to pay.

I understand, but I also have a problem when health insurance is tied to your job.

If money is tight, I understand raising deductibles (which is something that should be done even if money isn't tight). I have difficulty with those who can afford health insurance but simply refuse to buy it. There are people who believe it is the responsibility of their employer to provide health insurance. If they don't have a job with insurance, they don't feel a compulsion to pay for it themselves.

That makes no sense to me.

The recession also has caused more people to cut back on elective surgeries, scheduled procedures and appointments, and prescription drugs, according to surveys and medical professionals.

Again, some of this makes sense, some not.

I can understand postponing elective procedures.

What I don't understand is cutting back on necessary meds.

People will sometimes cut back or eliminate BP or cholesterol meds. They claim they don't feel any different when they skip the meds so they feel there is nothing wrong with skipping the med.

Why not look for a lower price med rather than stopping meds altogether?

Dr. Harry Strothers, a family physician in East Point, said many patients with chronic diseases are canceling appointments or not showing up. He cited a woman who had an abnormal mammogram.

“She has put off seeing a surgeon because she has a 20 percent co-pay to pay,” Strothers said. “She doesn’t have the money.”

Delaying necessary services can cause more problems later, Strothers said, adding that patients are also not filling prescriptions.

“Going without a medication for hypertension, diabetes or high cholesterol will take its toll later,” Strothers said.

Some things are not worth scrimping on.
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