One of the top killers of men over the age of 50 is colorectal cancer. It is the third most commonly diagnosed cancer and second leading cause of cancer death in men and women combined. If you catch it early, the survival rate is very high … but if it is caught late, the cancer will very likely kill you.
The best way to catch it is by undergoing a procedure known as a colonoscopy. If you’ve never experienced a colonoscopy — or are nearing that magic age where you ought to have that experience — Dave Barry’s essay on the procedure is hysterical and worth reading.
If you have had one (I have), you know it’s not the most pleasant experience you’ll ever have … and besides being invasive in an awfully intimate manner, it’s pretty expensive. Around here, a colonoscopy runs better than $3,000. While the procedure is usually covered by your health insurance, your insurance won’t always pay for it until you’ve met your deductible. Most of us have a deductible that is $2,500 or even higher … so, the cost of this procedure will likely come right out of your pocket.
Because of this, many people simply take their chances, even people with health insurance. And, that’s a huge risk.
I know this for a fact because my doctor recently suggested that, based on a smear on a chest X-ray, I get a CT scan. He wasn’t sure that the smear was all that big a deal but the radiologist wanted it so my doc felt compelled. The problem was that a CT scan at Scott & White runs about $3,000. My insurance covered it, but only after I’d met my deductible and I didn’t really have that much “extra” cash lying around.
Fortunately, I talked to someone at my insurance company who suggested I call around to see if I could find a stand-alone clinic that would do it for less. I found one, in Austin, that would do it for less than $400 which is a very good thing because that CT scan revealed a 6-centimeter malignant tumor in my right lung.
I’m fine now … recovering from surgery and looking forward to 12 weeks of chemo … but here’s the rub: even though I have pretty good insurance, I almost passed on the CT scan because of my deductible.
(And, let’s not even talk about the price disparity between the Austin clinic and S&W … that difference in price really confounds me.)
Here’s the really good news for all of us. Beginning August 1, 2012, any new health insurance policy sold must cover the cost of a colonoscopy, CT scan, mammograms and all kinds of preventative tests and procedures … and must do it without requiring any sort of co-pay or deductible. In a couple of years, ALL insurance policies must do this.
It’s one of the lesser-known provisions of the Affordable Healthcare Act (or, what the Right has tried to denigrate as “ObamaCare”) and there are a whole slew of other provisions already in effect.
You’ve heard about some of them … you can keep your kids on your policy until they are 26, regardless of their status as a student; no lifetime coverage limits; insurance companies can no longer deny coverage to kids under 19 because of pre-existing conditions; insurers can’t just drop you because you get real sick. There are a lot more.
And, despite what you might hear from the bloviating voices on the Right, they are wildly popular. When listed individually, the only thing folks don’t like is the so-called individual mandate … and most people can understand why it’s there. In fact, when it’s explained that the vast majority of Americans won’t have to worry about it (only those who can afford it but refuse anyway), opposition to the individual mandate (or Freeloader’s Penalty) declines dramatically.
Many people don’t like it simply because Republicans have done a danged good job demonizing the Act and the President who got it passed through Congress. Democrats have nothing to be ashamed of here. ObamaCare is constitutional, will reduce the deficit, make our citizens more healthy and will ultimately represent a huge benefit for middle-class Americans.
This link explains ObamaCare in very simple language and does it better than I can. Give it a read and spread the word.
- What’s “ObamaCare”? (newsfeedoftoday.wordpress.com)
- Surprising Ways the New Health Care Plan Can Speed Up Your Financial Independence Day (forbes.com)
- “‘That Is Not The Issue”: Mitch McConnell On How GOP Will Insure Americans After Repealing ObamaCare (mykeystrokes.com)