Sunday, July 19, 2009

Health Care From Our Perspective

The health care debate can stir passions in a heartbeat! As President Obama tries to tackle this thorny topic, we hear about how the House and Senate debates are going. We hear, too, from insurers, businesses and individuals as all wrestle to find common ground. Unless you are in the durable medical equipment (DME) or home medical equipment business (HME), the ordinary person does not get a view from this perspective.

While we do not solely identify ourselves as DME or HME, we clearly have products that fall into those categories. We also spend our days working with individuals and families who face situations that they expect qualify for help from private or government insurance plans. As business owners in this field, Pam and I are often the messengers of bad news. In so many cases, neither government sponsored or private insurance companies cover what the ordinary, everyday person considers a "must have." Sometimes the response is an angry one, as if we, ourselves, have orchestrated events so as NOT to provide coverage. Other times, we see resignation as folks hear the same story over and over again that a particular product is not covered, or that their own eligibility for that product does not hold up under the scrutiny of insurers. And then there are those who fight, who take their case to those in high positions, who push the envelope, who insist that their case be considered. While these types are few and far between, we know they exist. We often do not hear the outcome, though.

So, our story as a business owners is a mixed one. We offer a store full of an array of practical products (and a bunch of unique ones, too) that people might find in five or six different venues, including online stores. We love that we can contribute to someone's independence or a family's set of potential solutions for a loved one in this very tangible way. On the other hand, we all too often have to deliver the unpleasant news that Medicare, or some private payer, will either not cover the item, or will not let us be the provider because we are still an emerging business.

This debate is surely a hot one now in our country and it is anyone's guess how it will play out. What is certain is that not everyone will be satisfied, including those of us in this DME and HME business. We are looking to make a living. Individuals are looking to get what they need at a minimal cost given the years of contributions they believe they have made. Private insurers want profits. The government wants to keep its promise that affordable health care is possible for every American. Good luck on this one! Pleasing so many disparate parties will be a miracle.

What are your thoughts on the health care debate? Post your comments below or email your perspectives. For updates on various health care proposals you can check the government's official site or read the Kaiser Family Foundation's summaries. This site offers a side-by-side analysis of the various proposals in Congress.

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