For-profit companies leave healthcare system broken

BY DYLAN JENNINGS ’14
Contributing Writer

So, I recently had to visit the emergency room at Lancaster Regional. Don’t worry, unlike most college students, it wasn’t because of intoxication (not that people at this school consume alcohol illegally; that would be illegal). Sorry, where was I?

The reason I visited was to get a wound on my forehead cleaned out and to get glue on it (it seems that if the wound isn’t deep enough stitches aren’t required). Anyway, I went to Lancaster Regional for about three hours on a Saturday morning to get this wound cleaned out and to have the glued applied. While I was there for about three hours, I probably waited for about two and a half of those hours.

I bring all this up because a few days ago my parents received a bill for this very simple procedure. Now, if you had to guess how much this would cost if I didn’t have health insurance, what would you say? I asked a few friends of mine for their input on what they thought it would cost. My good friend said $300 dollars, and my other friend thought it might cost $500 dollars.

When I told them that it would have cost $3,800 dollars, they were dumbstruck. Obviously I am very lucky to have insurance, so I won’t have to pay all that. But I say this because there are millions of people in this country without access to affordable healthcare insurance. How could someone who could not afford insurance afford to pay a healthcare bill charging close to $4,000 for some cleaning of a wound and glue. How is it in a nation such as ours we have the highest healthcare costs of any other industrialized democracy?

One of the major reasons this is the case is because we allow companies that sell health insurance to be for-profit institutions and work toward making as much money as possible. And while for certain companies this is acceptable, when it comes to a person’s health, there is, in at least my opinion, something wrong about trying to charge as much as possible when someone’s life depends on treatment.

We, as a nation, have the highest medical costs of any other nation as a percent of GDP. We also have a system that feels, for whatever reason, it can charge outrageous prices for incredibly simple procedures that, in all honesty, doesn’t even require a doctor to actually do but if the doctor shows up they can charge you for it. It’s a system that makes money, lots of money, off people who need these services.

It is my personal belief that in order to make sure this sort of behavior in the industry is at least curbed; we need to get profit out of the system. In an ideal world, we would have a single payer system with the government running health insurance, but since people fear socialism unless they are the elderly, the poor, students, families, or practically anybody who benefits from the government (which is almost everybody), we might need to live with private insurance companies for the foreseeable future. Hopefully, one day we can live in a country where profit is not gained from sickness. Until then, I guess I’m stuck paying this exorbitant bill.

Questions? Email Dylan at djenning@fandm.edu.

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