Thursday, February 19, 2015

Health Care

Last Dec. I had surgery to have my gallbladder removed and a day after I had a scheduled date, but a good couple of weeks before I actually had the surgery, I got a call from the hospital telling me they had calculated my portion of the hospital bill (the calculation was off BTW) and would I like to pay my portion right then. It wasn’t going to be any less if I pre-paid it and it didn’t include the bill from the surgeon, anesthesiologist, labs and whatever else, just the hospital. Here’s the thing though, it wasn’t any lower if I pre-paid it or was just invoiced later (and I just got the thing now, in Feb.). If it’s not going to be any cheaper why the hell would I pay you beforehand? What if I was horribly maimed or died during the surgery? Or what if I had to reschedule? I would have already paid you. Does that seem right? At least this way you have a motivation not to screw up. I slip and fall on a urine puddle and I’ll let your bill run to collections forever. I’m not opening a tab at a bar, I’m opening my abdomen to a robot with a camera; and I think a laser. And now, a month and a half later, I get the real invoice and your calculation was off. Not by much, but you were wrong anyway. So even if I had pre-paid it, I would have paid you too much. What am I supposed to do with store credit at a hospital? Apply it to my next colonoscopy? Put it on a gift card? Now that I’ve had the surgery, I’ll happily pay you. Well, not happily, ‘cause my portion of the $10,000 hospital bill was still a good amount and I was only there for the afternoon, so I’m not thrilled to be shelling out for something that I have serious issues with the costs of, but I’ll pay it. I mean seriously, for $10,000 an afternoon I could rent a private jet, or a virgin hooker or something. You’re telling me the going rate for an outpatient bed and surgical gown is equal that of a virgin hooker? Or like 35 grams of cocaine (there’s no valid reason why I know that, or can do that math in my head, don’t ask). There’s something seriously fucked here. Though to be fair, they did validate parking. So I get these various bills and all in, I’ll probably be out of pocket about a grand, which isn’t too bad. And I’ll certainly pay that to be able to eat foods without fear of stabbing abdominal pain and vomiting every night, so this isn’t really a complaint, but let’s be honest, I was unconscious for the vast majority of this. How do I know they did anything at all? Or didn’t do something more? Maybe I walked out of there less one gallbladder but with an implanted RFID chip so the NSA can track me. Or they got a shrink ray and Raquel Welch ala Fantastic Voyage is cruising around my upper GI tract in a submarine right now. Still, if my portion of this routine and relatively minor, outpatient surgery that only lasted half of an afternoon costs a fraction of the about $15,000 (if you include the hospital, doctors, labs, etc.) can you imagine how absolutely useless the Six-Million Dollar Man would be today? That’s like a hernia operation, a pair of Air Jordans’ and a rascal scooter. Incidentally, I saw what I think was a homeless woman on a rascal scooter today and that image is imprinted on my brain forever.


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