I’ve been putting this off long enough. I thought I might give our elected officials a chance to fix it before I started bitching about it. But, it seems the President is having a bit of difficulty making good on his promises, and our Senators and Congressmen couldn’t fix a broken chopstick if they had a bottle of glue and instructions.
You know, come to think about it I’ve probably already done a fair amount of complaining about this problem, but you’re going to hear, no, wait, read more.
Anyway, back in January I had my annual physical. Part of that process involves Countess Dracula drawing a very large quantity of blood from my poor, feeble body. I was about ready to pass out after the first vial, and she took three, maybe more. I wasn’t too coherent at the time without my morning coffee. You see, as many of you already know, this blood test I subject myself to every year is done after I’ve fasted all night long. The damned place where the lovely Countess was doing her evil work didn’t open until 8:00, and by then I was grumpier than a grizzly just waking from a long winter’s nap. It was a good thing I didn’t have to wait long.
That’s not the part I want to complain about. My complaint lies with the bill I received one month later. My portion was $26.42. I wasn’t happy, but I paid it. What really tightened my jaws was the total amount charged to the insurance company, and the amount of adjustment to the bill. Take a close look at it:
Do you notice something not quite right here? The Countess and her merry band of bloodsuckers charged the insurance company $903.48, but were willing to accept $71.55. Am I missing something here? If these tests cost so much, then why is the Countess willing to accept so little? Suppose I didn’t have insurance? Would the blood drinking lady expect me to pay as much as she thinks these tests are worth? Or, would she do like the hospital did the last time I visited? They called me and offered me a 40% discount if I could settle my bill in it’s entirety at that moment—just one month after checking out of the lovely establishment. I jumped at that. Wouldn’t you?
This example is just one small part of the problem we have with our health care system in this country. The doctors, hospitals, and labs gouge anyone (you, me, the insurance company, who gouges you and me) they can so they can feed their nasty habits of providing exorbitant profits to their investors.
Here’s a question for you: Why do people fly to some other country to have major surgery done, spend a month recuperating, and fly home, and spend less money than they would if they had the same surgery done here (surgeon and hospital costs only)? Why does an MRI cost so much here when you can get the same procedure done in another country for about 25% of the cost? Same make and model machine. How many times does that machine have to be paid for in the U.S. as opposed to another country? Okay, that was more than one question. Lo siento.
What really disturbs me is a couple of statistics that keep popping up from time to time. They deal with life expectancy, and infant mortality. This country is not as high on the list as some would make you believe. Oh, wait. Maybe I shouldn’t go down that path just yet.
Let’s get back to the Countess and her relationship to the insurance company. Do you think they might be in bed with one another? Get your mind out of the gutter. Not in the physical sense. That’s just a bit of a metaphor for the two of them being in cahoots together in screwing us, the public, out of every dime they can before shipping us off to their uncle, the Undertaker.
Oh, what’s the use? Me complaining about the problem will not make it go away. The only thing that will make it disappear is if we change the way our health care system works in this country, and that is going to take more than our elected officials can handle. Makes a person pine for the days when our citizens were not afraid to voice their displeasure with a system, and then be willing to back up those words with action. Oh, I don’t see that happening anytime soon. The spine has weakened in the animal of discontent.