The Price of Health.
I hate conventional health care. I mean I really hate it, which is painful for me to say since I enlisted in the Navy as a Corpsman, volunteered as an EMT and work as a Nurse Aid and was contemplating becoming a Nurse; I once thought of going to Medical School. However comma, my opinion has changed, not in spite of my experience with our health care ‘industry,’ but because of it.
Recently, I made a decision to go to the hospital via ambulance and get checked out by the local hospitals Emergency Room department. I did this because I was having symptoms of dizzyness, nausea, chest pain, along with muscle twitching and numbness in my bottom three fingers in my left hand. It seemed pretty serious to me.
Normally when I feel in ill health, the first thing I’d do is take a look at my diet; what I’m eating and how often, or I’d drink more water, consider how much I’m exercising, and look at recent changes in lifestyle to account for the suddeness of my symptoms.
But nearly becoming unconcious from an acute manifestation of… something, warrented more immediate action in my book, so I made the decision to call the ambulance.
Short version of the story: I spent over 4 hours being ignored by the hospital staff, had to talk to three different Nurses (all Male and all jawjacking at the nurses station) to get my IV taken out, and in the end it was a Medic who actually bothered to take out the line. One of the Nurses eventually got around to seeing me and gave me shit for letting the Medic take out the IV.
The first person that talked to me upon my arrival to the ER was a 19 year old girl in scrubs with a computer, who wouldn’t make eye contact and started by asking for my social security number, my BILLING address, my date of birth, my last name, middle inital, and first name… IN THAT ORDER!!!!
These people wanted to know how they could charge me before they wanted to know why I was there or what potentially life threatening conditions I may or may not have. The Doctor eventually came around after my second hour and asked my symptoms. I told him all the things above, and he told me he didn’t know what was wrong. He had NO CLUE. All those years in medical school; $300K invested into his medical education and he couldn’t even ball park it. He kept saying that there was nothing he could do and he was very sorry, but he could refer me to people.
If I’d had wanted ‘referals’ I’d have opened a phone book!!! My vitals were fine, X-Ray came back clean, and blood work showed that I was the picture of friggen health. My electorlytes were normal, CBCs normal, WBCs normal, Urine showed no signs of drugs or alcohol. As far they could tell I was fine and there was nothing they could do for me.
I was having chest pains IN THE ER!! and the EKG and my cardiac enzymes said I was fine. Three of my fingers were numb and they said they’d refer me to a cardiologist!
They discharged me with a diagnosis of “Dehydration.” I got news for them, I drink water, I exercise fairly often, I eat healthy; disdaining sugar, vegetable oils, fried foods, caffeine, chemical additives and eat a generally low carb diet. I don’t salt my food, but I’m not afraid of salt either. Water and hot Green Tea are about the only things I do drink.
So ‘Dehydration’ is bullshit. I bring them chest pains and numbness in an extremity and they come back with dehydration. I tell them I drink water and relay my diet to them and they maintain their diagnosis while looking like they couldn’t care less about new information.
The fact that I was still experiencing my ‘Dehydration’ symptoms after they pumped 1000 ml of Normal Saline (NS) solution into me, didn’t give them any cause for double checking their statements.
My incident began at about 8pm. When they discharged me it was 1230 am. I only live a short 20 minute car ride away. And I didn’t know anyone in Madisonville that I could call to come get me, my parents being asleep after having a few beers; they couldn’t (shouldn’t) drive even if I woke them up.
So… I hitchhiked home. At 1 oclock in the morning, after receiving such great treatment from our healthcare system.
The cost of this ‘advanced medical care?’
Does anyone else see a problem with this!? THEY DIDN’T DO ANYTHING!!!!
Here are the line items on my bill:
Billed Balance– $1,483.73
LEVEL 4 WITH PROCEDURE– $827.00
Hydration up to 1 hour– $300.00
Hydration add or SEQ hr– $132.00
Account Balance– $2,742.73
I don’t even know what this means! What am I being charged for? Hydration is a simple process, just add water, maybe some sodium and it looks like it cost $432 to pump a tall glass of salt water into me. They did decide to X-Ray me, and if it cost me 800 bucks to get an X–ray that I didn’t even ask for, I swear these streets will run with blood.
This could bankrupt somebody!! A charge like this (for service like that) could ruin one’s financial life. My only safeguard is that I am currently unemployed. Yes, folks. That’s right. Not working is to my financial benefit. Apparently, our healthcare system has several programs that help the uninsured homeless and the unemployed pay their medical bills. Its sad that if I actually had the good fortune to have any kind of job, but just happened to not buy insurance because I’m generally healthy, the hospital would actually expect me to pay 3K for that horrible service.
Don’t think that this incident didn’t make me think about getting health insurance once I get a job. But, I thought about it. And in our society, thinking is ‘bad’ because if you think about how something works long enough, you’ll eventually figure it out. Must be why our government hates critical thinking among the general populace.
The cost of insurance isn’t worth it, even in the face of such outrageous medical expenses. Consider this. My mother pays about $200 per month for health insurance, which she uses (only because she has it.) That’s $2,400 per year, which is close to my current bill. BUT! Her healthcare is not free, it is only reduced to reasonable prices. Its $30 for an X-Ray and she still pays about $20 everytime she gets a medication and she has a couple of them. It still costs money to go to the doctor’s office or to get bloodwork and other tests done.
These charges are IN ADDITION to the $2,400 she pays over the course of a year. Its an interesting ( and hugely profitable dynamic) because if she doesn’t get sick in a given year, she basically wasted $2,400 that year. If she does get sick it actually costs her more than $2,400.
And either way the health insurance company wins!!
If she pays and doesn’t need their services they’ve made $2,400 that year off one individual for doing nothing. If she does need their services they have to cover apparently only part of the total cost, which means she’s still paying out of pocket, but not as much, which I guess to some people sounds better.
We also have to wonder if the hospitals charge the insurance companies the same thing they charge us? As far as I know the business dealings of my local hospital are not a matter of public record, so I can’t just go in and ask to see their books and research insurance expenses.
It makes me wonder… if I had insurance, would it cost my insurance company 2,800 dollars for my bill? Even if I had to pay half, would the hospital charge the ins. company 1,400 bucks? If I’m paying my half do they pay theirs? Maybe ins. companies only get charged what its actually worth like $300. Which would mean the total bill (in this hypotetical case) would actually cost $1700. This would be extremely profitable for the ins. company. They pay $300 while making $2,400 a year off me. That’s still a profit of $2,100.
And the benefit to the ins. company wouldn’t necessarially lay in their financial profit, since any profit is still profit. The extreme benefit would be in what they made me think that they paid on my behalf.
Consider this: if they’re really charged significantly less than what I would have been charged because they have ‘deals’ with the hospitals, then they pay many times less than I would have even though it appears that they have done me a great favor. I’d be thanking my ins. company for covering such a huge portion of my bill.
But if their protion of my bill was not as large as I am lead to believe, then I would have, in reality, paid them a good deal of money for almost nothing while still paying some out of pocket money, even as they sit back and profit.
And we have not even begun to ask questions about the quality of the service provided for such costs. My friend is sometimes having dizzy spells during the day, so using her insurance she goes to see the Doc, who prescribes her a medication for dizzyness that has a side effect of dizzyness.
Yes, the medication that is supposed to treat a condition has a side effect that causes the condition it treats. Talk about quality. The Doc also told her that its really the only med she can prescribe for her dizzyness. I just took 30 seconds to Google herbal remedies and found 10, count them 10 herbal remedies to alleviate the symptoms of dizzyness.
Now, I am not as simple as to assume that one herb is going to solve her problems, or that one should be taking herbs (or drugs) based on one symptom. If my casual study of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) has taught me anything, its that individual symptoms mean very little and it is best to look at the whole pattern of disharmony before choosing a course of treatment.
But the point is the information she was given. She was told by a highly trained (12 years of school), medical professional (read a science god we’ve put on a pedestal) that there was only ONE DRUG she could give, and that this was it. I defied this Doc’s claim of truth in 30 seconds.
And so I am left to ask a very serious question. Is our health care, advanced though it may be, worth the cost?