Health & Safety

April 13, 2012

Ten grand to cure acne?

Lt. Col. Scott Suckow
56th Medical Support Squadron
Pg 2 Acne commentary mug suckow_sc

The other day I was sifting through a stack of mail at home and noticed a letter from TriWest. It turned out to be an Explanation of Benefits from my kid’s recent trip to the neighborhood pharmacy. Most people probably don’t open them — much less read the fine print — on these statements, but since I’m in the medical business, I took a look.

The first item listed was a medication for acne. The price paid by TRICARE was a whopping $863 for a 30-day supply. As I mentally calculated the annual cost of this drug — more than $10,000 — it occurred to me this high-priced medication was not intended to save someone’s life from cancer or some exotic illness, but merely to deal with an everyday skin condition that most people eventually grow out of. My contribution to the $835 cost? A $12 copay.

See anything wrong with this scenario? I do. With huge costs like this buried in the fine print — and routinely paid for by “somebody else” — is it any wonder our nation’s medical costs have gotten out of hand? Is it any wonder healthcare reform is the dominant political issue of the day?

In truth, it’s not healthcare that is the problem; it’s the paying for it. Those of us fortunate enough to have full coverage through TRICARE have no “skin in the game.” In fact, we’re so insulated from the dollars and cents of our medical care that we barely notice the constant drumbeat of news headlines about rising healthcare costs.

But the truth is it now costs the average employer $20,000 a year to insure a family of four, with $3,200 of that coming from the employee. A trip to the emergency room averages $1,300, and a hospital stay averages $9,200.

What do we get in exchange? The most advanced medical care in the world, no question! But at some point, even “the best” can be too expensive. Overwhelming medical bills are now the leading cause of personal bankruptcy — and bankruptcy hurts everyone.

So what can you do to fight the high cost of healthcare?

Keep your appointments. A medical appointment at the 56th Medical Group costs the Air Force $262. Because most expenses are fixed, it costs that much for an appointment whether you keep it or skip it.

Use an urgent care center instead of an ER after hours. Unless it’s a true emergency (i.e., threat to life or limb), a UCC saves the Air Force hundreds of dollars. An upper respiratory infection (common cold) treated in an ER costs $515; in a UCC it’s 72 bucks.

Most importantly, get healthy and stay healthy! Most of the healthcare dollar goes to people with long-term diseases, and most of those are related to diet, activity level and personal habits. Maybe you can score a 99 on the physical training test today, but a steady diet of junk food and cigarettes will eventually catch up to you!

Our nation today is grappling with a historic healthcare crisis, and it’s unclear how it’s all going to work out. What is clear, though, is that each of us should do our part by managing our own health actively and using the healthcare system wisely.




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 
141210-F-BI157-003

‘Hip’ view …

Airman Pedro Mota Senior Airman Richard Canales and Airman 1st Class Brandi Sullivan, 56th Medical Support Squadron diagnostic imaging technicians, demonstrate taking a radiographic image with a Falcon view Dec. 11 at Luke Air ...
 
 

Street Beat

The 56th Security Forces Squadron handled the following incidents Dec. 8 through Sunday: Tickets Security forces issued citations for seven moving violations and four nonmoving violations. Vehicle accidents Security forces responded to one minor vehicle accident. Nonemergency responses Dec. 11: Security forces responded to a child being left alone when the parent stated the child...
 
 

Safety begins with asking ‘What could go wrong?’

I’m sure most of us have been told to “be safe” at some point either by a commander, supervisor or even a co-worker. This holiday season will probably not be any different. Someone will use this simple phrase in the next few weeks, and it will feel like a cliché to you, but what does...
 

 

Taking care of Airmen: How Air Force mental health services helped an academy leader

U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. — Chief Master Sgt. Max Grindstaff, the academy’s command chief, said taking advantage of Air Force mental health support services helps him cope today with the deaths of nine Americans he served with in Kabul, Afghanistan. “I sought counseling because I needed it,” the chief said. “If I feel like...
 
 

Street Beat

The 56th Security Forces Squadron handled the following incidents Dec. 1 through 7: Tickets Security forces issued citations for 11 moving violations and one nonmoving violation. Vehicle accidents Security forces responded to two minor vehicle accidents. Nonemergency responses Dec. 1: A child was left at school when it was not communicated from the step mother...
 
 

Stay fit through season of celebrations

Tis the season for family get-togethers, office holiday parties and cookie drives. What do these events have in common? Food … lots of food. As people load their plates with cakes and pies, getting a good workout drops on the priority list. Why do people fall into this annual holiday trap? Aaron Anderson, 56th Medical...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>


Directory powered by Business Directory Plugin