Medical Care, the Costs of Depression and Election '08
The costs of depression cannot and should not be weighed only in terms of dollars, but the dollars necessary for treatment can't be ignored.
Everything is more expensive these days. That's a given. Growing up, my father did his best to teach me that food, clothing, and shelter were the necessities of life that had to be planned for and the money for them budgeted. Today, we need to add medical care to those three necessities.
Recently, I found myself thinking about what has changed over the years. My mother was treated for depression and bipolar disorder throughout my childhood. Her treatment included multiple hospitalizations, and always required medications. Yet her treatment wasn't a financial burden because of the medical insurance from my father's job. Both he and the company he worked for considered the insurance and its benefits to be part of his compensation, and his company paid nearly all the premiums. Deductibles and copays were very low.
So, what has changed? Primarily, the rising costs of medical care have caused dramatic changes:
- Health insurance has become so expensive that employees are paying a bigger portion of the premiums.
- Deductibles and copays are rising sharply.
- Small businesses are finding it difficult to offer health insurance at all.
- Diagnostic tests, which most health insurance used to pay at 100% are now costing the patient more and more. Some patients are now declining those tests, resulting in less prevention and early diagnosis.
- Decisions about which medications are covered by medical insurance are being made based on cost rather than the best treatment for the patient.
- The United States has a huge uninsured population.
- Lack of health insurance means that many people go without medical care.
Soaring costs impact all areas of medical care:
- Office visits with doctors.
- Diagnostic testing.
- Health screenings.
- Outpatient treatment.
- Inpatient treatment.
Perhaps the biggest problem is that there are multiple issues inextricably intertwined:
- Rising costs of treatment have caused insurance costs to rise.
- As insurance companies have implemented cost-saving measures, the expense of billing insurance companies has helped drive up the fees charged by doctors.
- Some doctors are participating in fewer or no insurance plans because of the costs of billing and / or because they have tired of having to base testing, medications, and other treatments on what the patient's insurance will cover.
- With so many uninsured and insurance companies having so much power over care, screening and preventive care can be financially prohibitive. Less screening and prevention means more illness and disease.
The 2008 election is critical to our wellbeing. The issues impacting the costs of health care must be addressed. Do you know where the candidates stand? Will you be voting in the elections? Not only is it important to vote, it's perhaps more important to know where the candidates stand on the issues so we can cast informed votes.
Television and the Internet are making it easier than ever to follow the candidates, review the voting records of those who are or have been in office, observe debates, and more.
If getting out to vote is a problem, don't forget about absentee ballots. Absentee voting isn't restricted to people who are away from home during elections. You can use absentee voting for any reason that keeps you away from the polls.
The financial costs of depression result in higher human costs. Please keep this in mind, find out where the candidates stand, then vote in both the primary and general elections. If we are apathetic and don't vote, those who are elected have less motivation to take action. Don't let the people be ignored in our goverment "of the people, by the people, and for the people."