Medical State of America

Last month, I was in the hospital a couple of days. My blood pressure spiked to over 200, and I was experiencing chest pain and pressure. Urgent Care called an ambulance; they wouldn’t even let me drive to the ER. Do you know what an ambulance costs these days? Mine was listed as $1067 on my insurance account. Yikes!

I was sent straight to the Cardiac Care Unit. You can guess what happened next: tests and more tests, no sleep (I was there two days), barely tolerable hospital food (it took them until dinner the second day to figure out what “no meat” meant), and lots of bruising from needles as the bloodsuckers did their thing.

I felt pretty good that first day. They shot something into the IV that lowered my BP, and the chest pain eased considerably. The second day, however, I was cranky and out of sorts, and my stomach hurt from not being able to eat prior to a stress test. I don’t do well without food, not since acquiring H.Pylori when I lived on the hobby farm.

The upshot: I had a little fluid around the heart. They said it wasn’t serious and would probably go away on its own. They never told me whether or not that was what drove the BP up, so I still don’t know, but now I take a calcium channel blocker every morning. They wanted to foist two different meds on me, but I refused. The one is proving adequate.

I skipped the follow-up visit to the main doctor. I say “main,” because half a dozen saw me during those two days, and every one of them asked me to repeat what brought me there. And of course they all charged me for that visit too. Tell me, why do they get up to a thousand bucks for fifteen minutes of their time?

While I’m at it, why does it cost so much for CT scans and MRIs?–the equipment is usually long since paid for–and if they wheel you to Nuclear Medicine, watch out!

Two days in hospital: $25K

I have ACA. The insurance company didn’t like my recent flurry of medical activity and sent the next bill so I’d get it two days after the payment was due. I’m organized, though. I was waiting for it to show up, and when it didn’t, I called and paid over the phone.

Bill didn’t show up again this month; I paid it online.

I will give them NO EXCUSE to drop my insurance, and I’d be a fool to think this unexplained delay in receiving the bill is an error on their part. Insurance companies want to take your money; they do not want to pay out for anything. That’s why they must be destroyed as we change to single payer.

I’m dealing with another health issue now. Suspected diverticulitis. Christ, this has been a bad year for me medically. I feel like I haven’t been well in months, and in fact, I’ve been in pain most of this last month. Lower left abdomen, to be exact, which is why they think it’s diverticulitis.

They handed me antibiotics at Urgent Care, I took them, but the pain is still there. Tests will now be done to confirm or deny the diagnosis. They won’t be cheap. I’ll need that insurance.

I turn sixty-five in February. Private companies have been sending me crap in the mail for months regarding Medicare; how did they get my personal information? There can be only one answer: the government gave it to them.

You people who think it would be great to go on Medicare so everything is easy and taken care of blah blah? *snort* They have fucked that up too, with Bush’s “help.” His Part D was a Big Pharma giveaway, and we pay the price.

Part A is free. That covers 80% of hospitalization. Part B, which is doctors and tests and shit like that, must be paid for with monthly premiums. This year, that premium averaged $120/month. Part C is a combo of A, B, and D (the prescription drug coverage), but that puts you into a PPO/HMO, meaning you see doctors in the network or suffer the consequences. I want to see the doctor of my choice, so I’m opting not to choose C. Part D is purchased by the user; average cost per month seems to run around $35. Then you must buy “gap” insurance to cover that 20 percent Part A doesn’t. I have no idea what that costs yet. I’m terrified to check, but again, it’s arranged privately, with companies designed to rip you off and overcharge.

So now we’re up to around $150 a month for insurance before adding another, say, $35 for the gap insurance, and we’re almost to $200. I currently pay $38 for the ACA. Medicare will cost me almost five times as much.

“Stay on the ACA then,” you say.

Can’t. Government won’t let you, and if you don’t sign up during open enrollment during the year you turn 65, you will be punished by having a fee levied against you. I don’t use that word incorrectly. Punished is what you hear on the recording when you call Medicare.

Imagine having a government that threatens its citizens like that! I was appalled and a little scared. What the hell? Shouldn’t the government be afraid of its people?! They’re absolutely not. I get the feeling they often view us as vermin to be exterminated.

A friend of mine is going through exactly the same thing as me right now: signing up for medicare. She’s had cancer twice and is still taking medication for the second bout. You should see what she’s gonna have to cough up a month. She’s freaked.

The fact is this: America needs a robust national health service, and we could easily afford it if we stopped waging war. Our military budget is bloated and wasteful, and a few people/companies are becoming gazillionaires because of it.

Until we change our priorities and put people first, things are only going to get worse, and not just in the medical industry (I use the word “industry” correctly; it’s a damn business, and we are their marks). Our infrastructure is failing, our education system is a joke, and the food we eat makes us sick and fat.

But hey, if we wait a couple more decades, climate change will take care of everything for us, so we might as well party hearty, eh?




About Fenraven

Fenraven happily lives in south Florida, where it is really hot most of the year. Find him on Twitter, Google +, and Facebook by searching on 'fenraven'.
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11 Responses to Medical State of America

  1. Jaycee Edward says:

    This. All of this.

    • Fenraven says:

      How the hell can someone be charged $1067 for a half hour ambulance ride? There was a driver and the EMT with me. Even their salaries can’t account for it. And all the doctors charging for their brief visits? No wonder our damn premiums are sky-high!

  2. Helena Stone says:

    I’m so sorry about all your health issues, and the whole insurance drama. While the Irish system is far (very far) from perfect, it does seem to be better than what you have to deal with. ❤

    • Fenraven says:

      Statistics bear you out. The US has a lousy medical system, and that’s because it’s a business, not a service. It exists to make money, not help sick people.

  3. Gosh that is so scary why charge so much money? I know we Brits moan about the NHS but we are so lucky. Get well soon I hope it all works out okay.

    • Fenraven says:

      Medical costs in the US are out of control and spiraling higher each day. That’s because the insurance and drug lobbyists have purchased the favor of our politicians, who refuse to rein them in. It’s ridiculous. And when you consider the care we get here is less effective than that enjoyed in almost any other industrialized country, it’s scandalous. Most Americans literally cannot afford to get sick. Unfortunately, it’s the nature of the beast as we get older. Sick is gonna happen. Bankrupting us is not the answer. Medicine needs to become a service again, not a business.

  4. Allison says:

    I’m so sorry you’ve been sick, and that you have to deal with all this. *hugs*

  5. Aniko says:

    That is all so insane! I’m sorry you’ve been having to deal with health issues, and then all the complications and high costs just to treat them 😦 Our system may not be perfect in Australia, but I’m glad we have it. Our current government wants to change it to follow more along the lines of America, but it’s the one thing that Australians will get fired up over no matter what their political leanings, and not allow,

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