The Joy of Paying for Health Care

Two weeks ago I had an appointment with a health care provider. I didn’t actually need to see a doctor or other provider. But my insurance company requires an annual visit whether I need it or not. If I don’t comply, I don’t receive coverage for my sleep apnea treatment. Next year I’ll probably forgo the visit since it appears the cost of the annual visit exceeds the savings I derive from having coverage.

Such are the calculations one must make in America today. We have a truly screwed up health care system, which is essentially dominated by private insurance and pharmaceutical companies. So we end up paying more than any other people in the world, yet we die sooner and are generally unhealthier than our counterparts in other developed western countries.

The health care provider I saw says the system will change. He, too, is frustrated by our system, and in particular with insurance companies. I asked when. He said probably in 12 to 15 years, but he wasn’t sure meaningful change would come about in his lifetime.

I thought he was unduly optimistic. I reminded him of the extreme passivity of the American public. We are very tolerant of high-cost, underperforming systems. You see it in health care. You see it in education. We’re so convinced we have the best of everything (we’re #1, of course), we’re blinded to reality.

But I’m not complaining (even though it may seem like it). To the contrary, I’m sincerely grateful and delighted.

The scene when I checked out out of the doctor’s office makes my point. Continue reading

Things I Think About Education – Part I

Education may be the last bastion of mediocrity left in America. It also has become a contributing factor behind the massive inequality that now plagues our country at levels not seen since the lead up to the Great Depression.

By “education,” I mean our formal educational system. Fortunately, learning is far more important than education. And, fortunately, motivated people will figure out how to learn what’s important, with or without a strong educational system behind them. Moreover, there are still some great teachers in the system and pockets of excellence throughout, so the situation isn’t as bad as it could be. But it’s getting worse. Continue reading