I keep thinking that the powers-that-be are missing the point about health care. The problem is the high cost of the health care. Insurance is high because health costs are high. With lower costs, more people will have access to medical care and will be able to pay off larger amounts faster, both of which are good for hospitals. We need to get the costs down to a more affordable level. Apparently, a local hospital isn't getting the message. This hospital is advertising a switch to all private rooms.
Now before the economy went south a few years ago, estimates were that about half the people in my area had health insurance. I can safely assume that the number of insured people has not risen with our significantly higher unemployment rate of the past couple of years.Those figures didn't include the underinsured in the area.
I had surgery in 2008 and stayed in the hospital 6 days. My preopÂ visit with the hospital was for my operation and 2 day hospital stay. The preop, of course, covered the point that I had no insurance. The followup call 30 minutes before leaving for my surgery indicated an estimate of $6000. I was shocked when the final bill showed the charge for just the room ran $1100 a day. You can be certain that if I'd had the option of a semi-private room, I'd have jumped on it. For me it made a significant difference on how I was able to pay the bill. If I ever go to a hospital again, it's certainly something I'll know to ask about.
For some people, I'm sure the idea of a semi-private room is uncomfortable. My experience before with hospitals had been twice with childbirth and I liked having someone else in the room. My experience with the private room was not as good. At one time when I needed help and wasn't able to reach the telephone or call button, I was forced to yell out until someone finally heard me and came to my assistance. While it probably didn't take as long as it felt, I was hoarse before someone happened to walk by.
There are people who, with or without health insurance, can afford the $20,000 hospital bills without a problem. They should be able to get the full service that they desire. But for the majority of us, uninsured and underinsured, that same bill means years of payments, extra jobs when we can get them and even lower credit ratings. That means people put off health care as long as possible, resulting in higher costs.
Now going back to the wards with 4-10 beds is not something anyone desires, if that is the only way some people can afford health care, then some hospital should offer that. It may mean the difference in the hospital receiving a $50 month payment for 5 years to pay off bill or giving up on paying $50 month for 20 years before the bill is paid.
Obviously, if given a choice of hospitals, this one advertising will not be my choice. But when I was checking in at the preop conference, it never occurred to me that my room would be private. I wonder how many people are knowledgeable enough to ask. I can't be sure that our local hospital isn't the all private type, too. I guarantee you that I'll certainly ask before voluntarily entering a hospital again.When I was asking questions and getting vague answers, I just tried rephrasing the questions. Next time I'll know to ask and require answers. The next time I'll know that when the nurse or hospital clerk won't tell me even an estimate of the cost, that I need to find someone who will.
We need to spend more time on lowering health care costs. The way to assist more people in obtaining health care is to focus on cutting those costs.