Interview #1: Parent
My father began in his first full time job in his career choice after college. At the time, he was single and was offered healthcare from his employer and the out-of-pocket cost was minimal. This initial insurance coverage included a choice of doctors, no co-pays, and almost full coverage for hospitalizations. In addition, there was no real “network” of hospitals to speak of, so he could visit any hospital in the area and obtain coverage. However, when he changed employers several years later, the healthcare system began to plant the seeds towards how it exists today in the modern era. As the coverage changed, the out-of-pocket premiums increased, co-pays were required, and a network of doctors was available from which to make a choice. These changes were different for my father to understand because in addition, the complexities of coverage became more and more challenging. His insurance was HMO-based, so he required referrals for any specialist visits, along with expanded prescription drug coverage. In addition to these changes, he also noticed that the quality of healthcare services had somewhat declined, particularly in some of the doctor’s offices, where it was very difficult to get appointments and the waiting times were lengthy.
When my father married my mother and had my brother and sister and myself, the cost of family coverage increased significantly. However, he recognized the importance of health insurance, particularly for infants and young children, and gladly accepted the out-of-pocket costs for coverage in exchange for a sense of security and relief that his wife and children would be taken care of without question. Nonetheless, he observed some of the same concerns with his coverage, including difficulties in securing appointments and the quality of customer service provided in doctor’s offices. According to his standards, these offerings were subpar in some cases. Therefore, he has mixed feelings regarding healthcare in today’s society.
Interview #2: Grandparent
My grandmother did not work out of the home, but my grandfather was employed by a large auto manufacturer. This employer provided free health coverage for its employees, as the premiums did not require any type of out-of-pocket commitment. The insurance during this era was much simpler, but the healthcare offerings that went along with this simplicity were also minimal. However, during this era, research and scientific discoveries were just beginning to be revealed, so healthcare needs were not as challenging. Back then, my grandmother had never heard of preventative medicine in the manner in which it exists today. She did care for herself with her four pregnancies and obtain traditional medical care in these instances. However, anesthesia was much simpler, medications were limited, and there was a much lower perceived risk of complications or infection. My grandmother did take her children to the local primary physician in her small town for annual checkups and immunizations as needed, but the care did not go much beyond these parameters.
My grandmother perceived healthcare as a mother as an important part of the lives of her family members, but did not have to concern herself with how these services would be paid for because my grandfather’s insurance coverage at the time was very good and inexpensive. Back then, the quality of care was not questioned in the same manner as it is today because the local primary care physician took care of everyone in her town and that was all that the local residents knew; they didn’t know much about the inner workings of healthcare as it is exists today. As she looks back on the simplicity of healthcare in that era, she cannot believe how complex and challenging healthcare has become and calls it a big game of who can earn the most money. She is disappointed in the modern system and does not believe that it will improve any time soon, even with the Obamacare initiatives starting to roll out.
Interview #3: Friend
A close friend of mine was covered by his parent’s insurance plan until he graduated from college. Now that he is working full time and has an income of his own, he is responsible for his own healthcare coverage. He is required to pay a significant premium out-of-pocket for his employer-sponsored healthcare coverage. He was given a choice of three tiers of coverage and chose the middle tier because the coverage was slightly better than the other alternatives. His insurance is PPO-based and is considered to be a 70/30 plan, whereby the insurance company covers 70 percent of the cost and my friend covers the other 30 percent, up to a $2,500 deductible. This insurance plan is costly; however, he is able to have the doctor of his choice and is happy with his primary care physician under this plan.
Each of these scenarios is very different and demonstrates how healthcare has transitioned in recent years to where it stands today. My father has experienced both sides of the coin with his own income, while my grandmother recognizes how simple healthcare used to be many years ago. It is challenging and disheartening for my grandmother to observe what healthcare has become because she believes in simplicity and does not want too much complexity in her own life. However, healthcare today is the complete opposite and requires much thought, consideration, and out-of-pocket expense for many people. My friend has begun his own journey through the healthcare system now that he is independent and recognizes some of the sacrifices that must be made in order to obtain adequate healthcare services in the modern era. Each of these examples is important because it conveys a period in time where healthcare coverage was very different, particularly for my father and grandmother. For them, healthcare has become a game that they do not want to play and wish that it could be simple as it was in the past.