It is 4am and I can’t sleep. I am physically nauseous from anger and frustration, thanks to the federal government and the cluster fuck that we Americans call “healthcare.” As someone who is both insured, and a healthcare provider who bills insurance I am exposed to issues on both sides and things are just getting worse.
Over 1 year ago, I treated a federal agent who was injured on the job. I received a referral for massage from her chiropractor and began the treatment plan. Behind the scenes, I began filling out the paperwork for a federal worker’s compensation claim. Tons of paperwork was constantly turned back as “incomplete” (due to errors on their end) which I would have to re-submit. This process alone took over 8 months. After the paperwork was accepted, I discovered that the referring chiropractor got so fed up with the paperwork process that he gave up, deciding that losing $5000.00 in services rendered was easier than dealing with the federal government (It is against the law to seek payment from the patient for federal worker compensation claims). This made my claim of $3000.00 for services rendered invalid.
If you have ever had to call your insurance company for any reason, you have dealt with frustrating automated menus to choose from and long wait times just to talk with a live body who may or may not be competent enough to answer your question accurately. Imagine that experience but exponentially worse. Like, unbelievably worse. I was finally able to explain my situation, and after a long effort I talked with a supervisor who was understanding. She said she would fix the problem and clear my payment. Yesterday I found out that her supervisor denied it. I’m a small business owner—$3000.00 is a big deal.
This is just the latest in a trend of administrative chaos that both healthcare subscribers and providers have to sift through. I watched my own health insurance costs increase while my coverage decreased this year. I see more and more clients who have massage covered by insurance, AFTER they pay a ridiculously high out-of-pocket deductible ($3000-$5000 at times). Yet these same clients can get their generic vicodin, xanax, and valium from the pharmacist for $5 each—and we wonder why we have an opiate addiction epidemic among people of all socioeconomic backgrounds in this country. I see many clients who don’t have adequate mental health coverage and clearly project emotional distress as real, physical pain in their bodies.
Something HAS to change. Greedy pharmaceutical companies fund much of today’s medical research. They pay a lot of money to medical schools, and give doctors many incentives to push their products. They have a lot of political lobby organizations giving money to crooked politicians in order to prevent policies from passing that would clean up this mess. At the end of the day, many people -- most of whom are not even healthcare providers -- are profiting by keeping America sick, dumb, scared, and addicted.
Healthcare has turned into sickness management. There needs to be a new definition! Healthcare should be defined as promoting wellness; exploring science-based mind-body treatment methods for reducing pain; eating healthy meals with friends and family; exploring nature; going on introspective journeys discovering who we truly are, not who we think we should be. Healthcare should be a human right, not a privilege. Healthcare providers should treat people like human beings with feelings and emotions rather than a bunch of signs and symptoms to be numbed with medication.
I am working toward making this definition the new reality. I have a vision of going on health-themed vacations a couple times a year. I dream of integrating ancient ruins, beautiful beaches, and hidden lagoons with medical care, nutritious eating, yoga and exercise, health education, and learning how to connect with one’s true authentic self. This sounds so much more enjoyable than battling an insurance company’s terrible automated phone system for over an hour just to speak to a live body, and I hope you would agree. Please join me!