Friday, March 14, 2008

The Week O' Whinin' continues

Yay, Afghanistan! Yay, Flags of Many Lands™! Why would someone from Afghanistan wander onto this humble blog? Melissa Theuriau. As good a reason as any to travel half way around the world, at least electronically.

Dedicated blogger that I am, here I am at a wi-fi hotspot to bring you, my loyal readers, the latest random thoughts that cross my mind. Is dedicated a synonym for addicted? Possibly. There is one thing in which you can be confident, though. Since I went out in public to post this, at least I was wearing pants when I wrote this up!

In January, I visited the emergency room because of chest pains. I blogged earlier about the guys with whom I shared my room. The news for me was good. I just had a case of indigestion worse than I ever had before, and it hasn’t returned. It was likely brought on by a very fatty meal, and since that time I have lost about fifteen pounds, though I could certainly stand to lose more.

So far, so good. So where’s the whinin’?

The whinin’ is about the bill. There are several bills from various doctors, x-ray companies, hospitalists(?) and the like, and those total to about $2,000. Not good, but I can pay them, given enough time. The bill from the hospital itself is another matter.

They want $14,000.

Actually, they wanted $17,000, the sticker price for a new Mini-Cooper, but since I don’t have insurance and I’m paying for this myself, they cut me some slack and took 20% off the bill.

They’re not just fucking thieves! They’re fucking thieves with a heart!

So all told, I’m asked to pay about $16,000 for about 16 hours stay. OMG! At a $1,000 an hour, I could have called up the service Eliot Spitzer used! What was I thinking?

Of course, in reality, I couldn’t have spent the $16,000 on call girls, because I DON’T HAVE THE $16,000! I don’t know much about high class hookers, but I do know that they tell you the prices up front and expect you to pay before services are rendered. This is a major difference between hookers and hospitals, and I think it is a point in the hookers’ favor.

This is health care in the U.S. right now. I work several jobs, but until I got enough hours at the community college this semester and they were willing to pay half of my health insurance, I couldn’t afford it. Given the budget cuts that are being discussed, I don’t know if I’ll work enough hours at Laney and BCC to qualify six months from now. Such is the lot of folks in my position.

An American can always get health care. Even without medical insurance, the emergency room took me in and treated me. And now, they want to saddle me with a bill that will likely put me into bankruptcy.

We are in negotiations. By negotiations, I mean I have to give them all my financial records and they will decide if I can pay or not. If I’m above a certain income level, they want the whole thing. If not, I don’t know how much they will cut the bill by. I went to this same emergency room a few years ago when I fell off my bike, and they forgave almost the entire bill, but I wasn’t working at the time. Given the stories of the other guys being treated in the same room as I was, one definitely won't pay and the other probably won’t get charged. Instead, they are charging me for all three of us. And maybe my first free visit thrown in.

I want to be clear. I am not asking for money.


Just making that clear.

I told the kind hearted FranIAm about this nonsense in an e-mail a while back, and she said if she won the lottery, she would pay the bill. Well, not surprisingly, she didn’t win. Even if she did, I don’t want her money. I pay the bills I legally incur, but no matter what the law may finally say about this, I don’t feel like I legally incurred it. I needed help, they helped me, they used their expertise to discover nothing was life threatening, thank God, and then they made up some fucking ridiculous number and said it was what I owed them.

Usually, I pride myself on being a big picture guy, but it was my father who first pointed out that this transaction is part of the gross domestic product. God only knows how much of our GDP is accounted for by the ridiculous overcharging that goes into the ludicrously expensive health care system we have. I'm sure it's at least millions of dollars; I think billions is a better guess. And only the hospitals and insurance companies, both of whom think they are God, know how much they would finally agree to pay for this visit had I been covered.

Things have to change. I am not an isolated incident. This country can afford to change and the people need it. At least we could afford it if we weren't saddled with these two ridiculous wars without end. (Sorry, the blogswarm against the war is next week. Just got an early start.)

Here endeth the whinin’. For now at least.

And since it’s a Friday, we close with a Random 10.

Withered and Died Elvis Costello
The Elements Tom Lehrer
Coney Island Girl Tom Waits
New Parchman Mose Allison
You Can Leave Your Hat On Randy Newman
Walkin’ Blind Patti Smith
Blue Jean David Bowie
Reach Out I’ll Be There The Four Tops
I’ll Fly Away Allison Krauss & Gillian Welch
Angel Band The Stanley Brothers

We start with The One True Living Elvis singing a Richard Thompson song, just about as bitter a tune as he ever recorded. And it’s not the bitterest tune in the ten! Mose and Randy are even more bitter. We have two Toms, Lehrer being silly and Waits being sentimental. We end with two more uplifting numbers from the O Brother Where Art Thou soundtrack, which is a nice break from all the whinin’ around here.


dguzman said...

I have insurance (through work) and it still cost me almost $800 to find out I had a tummy full of ulcers (well, three, actually) a couple of years ago. And that tiny lump? That'll be $300 to find out it's not a breast tumor.

But hey--Bush says our healthcare system ROCKS.

Tara Mobley said...

Our healthcare system does suck. I do have insurance, through my husband, but when I had Evie we were really charged a lot. We were able to get the hospital to allow us to pay the bill in small payments we could afford, but it still sucked and made things very tight, with a new baby no less.

Oh, and happy π day!

karenzipdrive said...

I think you should print up some "Bush Bucks" and pay your bill with them.
If not, just send them $5 a month to show you're making "an earnest effort to pay."

Matty Boy said...

I can only agree with everyone here. With health insurance, it's tough and without it absolutely sucks.

Hey karenzip! Thanks for coming by and posting! I appreciate the PonyPal patronage.

Padre Mickey said...

I'm glad that Tara and Chris paid their hospital bill, 'cuz I'd be really really ticked if Alta Bates repossessed Miss Bébe, the World's Cutest Granchile™.

Hey Matty Boy, maybe you should put an empty brandy-snifter on your desk while you lecture. Well, maybe not empty; ya gotsta put a coupla bucks in dere to git it started. When a student asks a question, you point to the snifter.

Yeah, I'm fulla ideas; well, fulla sumptin'!