American Health Care is Frustrating
October 07, 2013 | ~3 mins read time.

I am Canadian, and I now live in the United States of America. I'm a legal resident, and as such, I must follow the laws of the land. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) is one such law. I've had people say things like, "Well, you should be happy. Obama's gone and socialized health care." This is said with such disdain that you can just tell they've only heard bad things and more than likely have never had any first-hand experience with such systems.

Granted, I prefer Canada's system. I've had excellent care over the years, and nothing really major to complain about. Sure, I had a doctor miss something. However, that was the fault of the doctor assuming I was too young to have a certain ailment, when obviously I was not, because I had the very thing he said I was too young to have. At any rate, it wasn't perfect, but nothing humans are involved with ever is.

However, now I live in the USA where I have to deal with the insurance companies. The profit-driven nature of everything here is clearly evident in how the system is run, but I'm glad I can now get health insurance for around $260 per month for my family instead of around $1400 per month. There's just the two of us, otherwise it would probably be a better rate. I am having trouble deciding which plan is best for us though.

The reason I'm having trouble deciding is ridiculous. I cannot get our provider, which is a clinic where we obtain various services, to tell me how much the services we have already used would have cost if we had insurance when we used them. The reason why was not divulged, but after doing some extra research, I think I found the answer. There are different prices depending on how you are paying for your services.

The clinic has its own income-based scale for those without insurance, which is what I was being billed with. Then the usual practice is to bill a person different rates for the same service depending on which insurance company they have, because the insurance companies apparently negotiate rates independently of one another. How is a person, who is mandated to purchase insurance, to comply with the law, to make an informed decision when the clinic refuses to inform? Furthermore, why don't providers have set rates that they work from to provide insurance companies and individuals prices?

I would be okay with that. If I'm going to be charged retail for medical services then prices should be set at some point and discounted according to whichever method we're obtaining services. I suppose it would be somewhat similar to when a person goes into a restaurant to eat and happens to have some membership that provides them with a discount at a participating restaurant.

We'll see what happens when I go in for my next appointment pre-insurance, because I intend on trying to get some sort of answer about costs. Why is one of the most important services we need shrouded in such mystery? It's at a point where I feel like I'm going to have to engage in espionage to get any answers on cost! How have Americans put up with this nonsense for so long is beyond me.