Monday, November 21, 2005

My Wallet Needs a National Health Care Plan

True story: I got a bad case of the poisoned oak on a trip a few weeks ago, and when I got back to civilization I tried all sorts of ointments, poultices and witch doctors (including the ineffective Benadryl and the miraculous but in my case insufficient Zanfel) until I couldn't take the itching and went to get a prescription. I thought I could hold out, believing erroneously that it only lasts a few days, but things got out of hand and I started taking the standard steroids for temporarily suppressing your immune system, which overreacts to poison oak and creates the problem, believe it or not. Well, I thought it would cost me fifty bucks, maybe a hundred, and filling the prescription was only a ten-spot, so I thought no harm done.

All told, for one hour in the emergency room and maybe five minutes of actual face time, I have shelled out $460. And that wouldn't happen in Canada.

Let's break down the charges, shall we? The hospital asked for $100 up front and said I could pay the rest later, if there were additional fees. (As though there might not be. I foolishly decided to hope.) I got a statement in the mail soon afterwards asking for, or rather demanding, an extra $95, which I paid grudgingly and thought I was finished.

Then another letter came in the mail saying I owe ----- Emergency Physicians another $245. You see, the hospital has its costs and billing system, and the doctors who work for the hospital have a complete different system, and you pay them both. They actually compete to see who can charge more for less. I could have faked the prescription -- I write a very sloppy hand when I want to -- and walked into the nearest pharmacy, paid ten bucks and been done with the whole thing.

But nooooooo. Someone has to build that third addition to his daughter's house yacht. Thank goodness this happened in the small window of time before my new job and health care plan kick in. Otherwise I wouldn't have learned the value of for-profit health care.


Blogger stephanie said...

I witnessed all of this first-hand. It was not fun. The real lesson here is to never touch any plants because poison oak sucks and it will ruin your life and drive away your loved ones.

6:09 PM  
Blogger Lapp said...

Not in your case, my dear. You were very kind with all the sandwiches and turning out my pillow at evening time. I daresay I hope you get very ill so I can repay the favor.

7:03 PM  
Blogger stephanie said...

"True love means hoping that your girlfriend gets menengitis so that you can nurse her back to health." I believe it was Hallmark that coined that phrase.

11:25 PM  

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