It was a Friday night and I knew Sophia had strep for the third time in four weeks. I knew that the quicker I got her treatment, the less likely it was she'd end up (again) as an inpatient. So I made the decision to take her to Children's Hospital to get her throat swabbed and get an antibiotic versus waiting til the next morning when I could go to a Minute Clinic and pay a nurse practitioner $85 to swab her throat...Or go to the pediatrician and pay $20.
I elected to go to Children's because I wanted a pediatrician and I wanted treatment NOW to prevent bigger problems. I knew that with Sophia's issues with drug tolerance, as well as the potential issues with resistance to drugs given her numerous strep infections, we needed someone who knew what they were doing.
What I got was a nurse practitioner who did not speak English as her first language who did not know what to do with a child with recurrent strep who did not know what medication to give her who left us sitting in the room for hours, only rushing us out the door because SHE wanted to be able to leave at the end of her shift.
What I also got was a $1200 bill.
Now thankfully, we have met our deductible and so I only had to pay $100 because I am fortunate enough to have insurance. My insurance company got to pay a discounted rate on the bill because -- as is the norm with agreements between insurance companies and practitioners -- insurance pays the provider LESS than what a non-insured person would pay. The technical term for what an insurance company pays is "usual and customary rate."
While in the ER, we sat next to a woman who was a single mom with no insurance who was sick and worked long hours and had a sick child who ended up needing several expensive medicines.
The little boy asked his mom to please not go to work the next day, "why do you have to mommy?"
She sighed, "to give you everything you need." She looked at me and said, "I hope that was a good enough answer."
I thought it was.
But I wonder if the insurance pigs, hospital CEO's, and doctors who drive BMW's to their executive homes while their patients pay $1200 for a FRICKING strep test -- Good damn LORD this pisses me off -- have a good answer for why they overcharge patients for services. Do these asses have a good answer for why rich insurance companies get a "discount" when they pay their "usual and customary" portion of the bill, but the patient without insurance pays the FULL rate?
Is there a good answer? No there is not. It's not right. It's not ok. And the system is broken...very, very broken. And so I say to the politicians trying to block Obama, how about you try joining with him to FIX this? Surely this doesn't have to be a republican versus democrat thing. Surely you have a heart -- even if ever so tiny and shrivelled -- that you could understand why the system needs to be fixed.
And quite frankly, to the people that are scared of the government "controlling" healthcare and wondering if it will do a good job, I just have to say, do you trust some sociopathic corporate assholes with your healthcare decisions? I don't. Not that I trust politicians with it, either, but I can vote them out.
Really, it doesn't matter to me if it's government doing the fixing or private companies doing the fixing. Something has to change.