Personal Finance Hot Topics: Health Care Costs

BlogHer Original Post

"We're watching the health care system collapse around us," said James Kahn, a professor of health policy at UCSF.

This provocative quote is from an article in the San Francisco Chronicle by David Lazarus titled "Major surgery is the only cure."

The question of health care is complex and composed of issues ranging from micro to macro. Just a small sample of BlogHers illuminates this range.

Tricia at Blogging Away Debt was shocked to discover how she was overcharged for her prenatal visits including this realization:

To my surprise, I was being billed for procedures I didn’t have! What really bugged me was that there is no way I could have one of them performed or they would have killed me!!

Although Tricia was insured when she gave birth, D at Divorce to Financial Freedom was not, yet she too learned that it is important to always review your medical bills.

BlogHim Five Cent Nickel takes D's advice a bit further and suggests that if you are uninsured that you negotiate for discounts.

Sometimes the shocks are pleasant as Amber at Yellow's Green learned when her insurance company sent her this note:

The gist of the letter was: Sorry. You were right. We were wrong. You did everything you should have done, and in the right way. We're sending $X (the full cost of the birth) to your midwives.

Sometimes the endings are happy, but the message remains, read your bills and statements and follow up if things are not right.

In the U.S., a great way to find information is to check out healthinsuranceinfo.net from Georgetown University where you can download "Consumer Guides for Getting and Keeping Insurance" for every state and D.C.

A new approach to health insurance is the creation of Health Savings Accounts (HSAs). Karl Thiel has a primer at The Motley Fool which poses the question, Is an HSA Right for You?

The Millionaire Artist
has a series of posts describing her search for an HSA solution, but she's had to get creative:

Hooray! I think I found an artist-friendly, freelancer-friendly health insurance solution!

Now, it doesn’t officially include a Health Savings Account (HSA) option. But this is where “gettin’ creative” might just be the ticket. Just because insurance and a health savings account aren’t wrapped together with a bow doesn’t mean its not possible!

The Colorado Health Insider reviews the state of HSA usage and finds that it hasn't exactly caught on like wildfire, perhaps indicating that it isn't quite the successful ownership society solution as it was touted.

Speaking of macro-level approaches to fixing health care, at her blog Healthy Concerns, BlogHer Co-founder Elisa Camahort considers the relationship between health care costs, income and profits and finds that they don't quite line up...

So, when is there going to be a congressional hearing with health care company execs lined up justifying their profits?

Kay Bell at Don't Mess With Taxes notes that it is healthcare shopping season and she encourages readers to be smart shoppers. Thomas M. Anderson of Kiplinger's Personal Finance echoes Bell's advice, saying that "buying the right insurance could put thousands of dollars in your pocket."

Finally, from Australia, The Bargain Queen has a cautionary tale of living without health insurance (along with some interesting insight to Australia's health care system and how it compares to the U.S.'s.) She raises excellent questions:

I’m not telling you this to get your sympathy; I don’t need it and I don’t want it but I would like to get others thinking about what they’d do in a similar situation. How long would your savings last if you had to stop working tomorrow? How would you pay medical bills? Who would take care of you?

It is important to ask yourself these questions because as she points out, you should "insure financial health, because you can't ensure good health."

Wise advice.

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