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.


 
 

 

Airmen encouraged to vote, obey AFI on political activities

As the political season approaches, we should all be encouraged to do our civic duty and go out and vote. However, as an Air Force member, there are a few things to keep in mind. Here is a short noninclusive list to help you determine what is or is not permitted when it comes to...
 
 

People First – August 22, 2014

Editor’s Note: The “People First” section is compiled from information from the Air Force Personnel Center, TRICARE, 56th Force Support Squadron, Airman and Family Readiness Flight, Veterans Affairs, the civilian personnel office and armed forces news services. For the complete story, go to the web address listed at the end of the story. CMSAF, congressional...
 
 

Dollars and Sense

As the economy has slowly moved along, the total amount Americans owe has increased 5 percent from last year. Revolving credit card debt has increased $12 billion in the last three months, according to the Federal Reserve. Airmen mired in debt may be tempted to take out payday loans or title loans, transfer balances to...
 

 
Courtesy photo

This week in history

Courtesy photo WASP trainees and their instructor pilot in Texas. Aug. 23, 1944: WASP arrive at Luke This week 70 years ago, four Women Airforce Service Pilots arrived at Luke Field. The WASPs helped America win World War II by...
 
 
new-dt

Exercise Exercise Exercise: Active shooter on base

The City of Goodyear, Glendale, El Mirage and Surprise fire departments, the Professional Medical Transport Ambulance Service, and the South Ambulance Service worked together with the 56th Civil Engineer Squadron Fire Services ...
 
 

Justice Report

The following is a list of administrative actions issued at Luke Air Force Base in July. 56th Maintenance Group Courts-Martial • A staff sergeant was court-martialed for wrongful use of methamphetamine, wrongful use of cocaine, and wrongful distribution of cocaine. The member received a reduction to airman basic, forfeiture of $700 pay per month for...
 




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