Thursday, June 18, 2009

Grrr American Health Care

My dad just got the bill for my exciting trip to the doctor for my bronchitis last month. It was nearly $1,000! Holy hell. $400 was just for going to the emergency room, since I don't have a family physician down at campus and I had a 103 degree fever, so I needed to go somewhere quick. Our lovely insurance is only paying $350 (to quote my dad, "Those crooks. I hope Obama puts them all out of business). Thankfully my family isn't poor, but we're not rich either, and having to pay $650 so someone can tell my I have bronchitis (which I could have guessed, since I was around my friend who had it) and prescribe me meds is pretty crappy.

I don't claim to understand all of the inner workings of insurance, but this seems a bit ridiculous to me. I hardly ever get sick enough to go to the doctor. Other than regular physicals required for school and sports and my bronchitis last month, I think the last time I had to go was when I broke my foot when I was 5. So tell me again why we've put all this money into an insurance company for me, and then when I actually get sick, they only pay a tiny fraction of a cost? They won't even pay for my birth control or my Gardasil vaccines because they consider it "optional" instead of "preventative." Instead I shell out $600 bucks a year to make sure I don't spit out a baby or having crippling periods. They should be paying me to make sure I don't clog up the welfare system with another kid and that I finish earning my degree so I can some day have a wonderful job that stimulates the economy and cures cancer (or something like that).

Sorry to rant, but it's pretty annoying. I know insurance companies love people like me who never get sick but keep putting money into the system. I just wish that when I do get sick, they would actually do their freaking job.


  1. It's probably because of the x-rays and everything. I mean, you were in there for like three hours.

  2. Well 2.5 of those hours I was just sitting around alone waiting for someone to come take care of me. But yeah, I should have just said no to the freaking x rays and to give me some drugs already. Blah.

  3. You know what's even better? Those same insurance companies that DON'T cover birth control DO cover Viagra medication... why? Because it's medication for a disease. Sigh.

  4. People should start small, non-profit insurance companies that aren't horribly evil. The insurance version of credit unions.

  5. Personally, I can't stand it when smug Europeans (or Canadians) hijack US health system threads with tales of how great it is in their part of the world, but I also can't stand US Senators standing up and saying that it's not broken, and that universal healthcare is eeeevil.

    So I woke up in an ambulance a few months ago after a seizure, was taken to an emergency room, had an EEG, a follow-up the next week with my doctor, then with a neurologist, an MRI, another, more extensive EEG and a second neurologist visit for the results.

    I paid €0.00 (I don't know the current conversion rate to dollars, sorry), and what pleases me about this is not so much that it saves me money (it probably doesn't, considering my tax bracket), but that people who could not possibly afford that sort of treatment can still get it. Because we're a society, for fuck's sake, and we should be helping each other.

  6. @Fraser,

    Spoil sport I live in the UK and was gunna say its one of the main things that will keep me here. I want to go into academia and so will never have the cash for my own treatment and I hate insurance companies (I've worked as a telesales person for one they are pretty heartless).

    That being said the UK seems to be heading to a two tier system at the moment in which those can afford it go private/insurance option; which to be honest is the only viable option for us. Free healthcare for everyone costs far too much and as the medicines get better they get more costly.

    A common debate over here is "why wasn't my mum/dad/brother/sister given drug X that could have extended her life by Y years" and the answer is often "because it costs too much and with that we can save Z number of people". This is not a nice debate (to be fair there's a lot done on the NHS that shouldn't be).

  7. It's disheartening to see those CEO's of the insurance companies being grilled by congress, only to have them repeat "I'm not familiar with that case to comment" over and over when it's clear that they are being wankers and screwing over their customers claiming a "preexisting condition..."

  8. The fu648in' retarded bit is that if I wanted to stay in school, I was REQUIRED to hold health insurance. It would have been SO MUCH SMARTER for me to be able to take my money that went to a really exorbitant and useless individual plan (there isn't any other kind, if you don't have it through your job) and just stuff it in a bank account in case I had a medical emergency.

    BUT NO. It's the idiotic equivalent of being REQUIRED to respond to the nigerian email scams!

  9. oh. And all companies should be required to pay for birth control. Or the government should. Seriously, it would be the single cheapest thing to do, to promote economic growth, an educated populace, save millions of health care dollars needlessly spent...


  10. Yeah the NHS over here in the UK if fairly decent. Although they do pay for homeopathic "treatmeants". I really don't get why so many Americans are afraid of socalism, it's the best way to go.

  11. By definition, the only people who can expect to benefit from "free" healthcare, are people who expect to pay less in tax than they get in medical treatment (Which is ironic given that greed is used as a reason for why things private medicine is bad).

    Likewise, by definition, for people to get more in medical treatment than they pay in taxes, they have to expect other people to pay more in taxes than they get back.

    Which is fine if you want to go down the "rich people should be forced to help poor people road"

    however, here in the UK, Smokers, obese people, and dying old people take up a vast proportion (the most expensive treatments are generally for people with worst prognosis).

    I'd much rather send my money to people in Sudan, Gaza, Somalia or any other place where people are seriously poor, rather than to pay for self induced harm (drinkers, smokers, morbid obesity), and to extend the deaths of people dying from aging.

    People who are dying from lack of water, or easily vaccinatable disease, which could be bought with a few dollars, rather than someone who needs tens of thousands of dollars of treatment because they've destroyed their lungs with smoke.

    If we're talking about helping poor people, shouldn't I get to help the most needy people? What if I decide I want to withhold X% of my tax, and send it to help vaccinate people in Darfur instead?

    Most people in the UK (where i live) seem to be motivated by dumb emotional arguments that


    * have actually heard this said

    With these arguments it only ever looks at the worst side of one side. Sure people will die because they can't afford certain treatments (although i hope more people would donate to charity to stop that happening), but people also die under the NHS where they might not if they had cheaper private alternatives.

    Since everything is "free", and there aren't unlimited resources in the world, the only way to handle that limit is through rationing, namely waiting lists.

    People die on waiting lists for surgeries and treatments all the time. People die because certain treatments weren't available.

    However "sorry, the NHS cantafford that treatment, it needs the money to help other people"

    sound an awful lot better than

    "sorry, you have to die because you don't have enough money".

    its essentially the same concept, but one way is packaged so it seems noble and one packaged to be abhorrent

    But waving a magic wand and saying government should take over(cause that works well, public schools anyone?), doesn't do away with the problem that; untill we have unlimited medical resources and doctors with unlimited time, people are going to die through lack of resources, whether through restrictions and rationing on an NHS, or through personal scarcity in a private system.

    What switching to government run healthcare does, is remove any element of choice. You have to pay for it whether you use it or not. Whether you're one of the people who benefits from the set up, or loses out.

    There's death and greed on both sides, so can we please avoid the crude "evil" polemicism. Painting it as one side wants people to die and one doesn't is grossly off base and unhelpful to cogent discussion.