Friday, May 8, 2009

A guy walks into a cinder block...

A couple of weeks ago I tore my leg open pretty bad. I sliced it up against a cinder block and cut it down to the bone. As you can imagine this hurt like hell and I needed medical attention. The first thought in my head however was not about where the closest hospital was but that I lacked medical insurance and therefore could not afford treatment. It’s been two weeks and my leg is still bleeding a bit, I have an awkward limp, and it stings a tad. I have seen a doctor at the medical clinic my father works at and they put me on antibiotics to prevent infection. Before I get started I want to point out that I am not in favor of universal health care. The issue is America heads a lot of the new procedures and drugs that keep us living longer and able to fight diseases that would have killed us twenty years ago. This is because the health care industry is very profitable and people invest a lot of money into it. If it became government sanctioned and did not produce the cash flow it has been, funding would be lost and medical breakthroughs would end all together. To keep advancing this area we are just going to have to realize that it is a business. But on another level, lets evaluate what we are really paying for.

So here’s the thing, I needed stitches, pretty badly. I could not handle a four hundred dollar medical bill right now, that is almost half a pay check for me and rent is due. The thing is, all that I needed done is to get stitches. Now it only cost a tailor about twenty bucks to do the whole suit so four hundred on the leg seems a bit high. I would have gladly popped a Vicodin ($2, those are street prices I hear), hired a seamstress ($25) , and bought some antiseptic and gauze ($10). So the work I needed done about thirty seven dollars, hell I would have thrown down fifty to add a tip. Of course that is a bit of an exaggeration but I doubt something as simple as stitching up a leg should cost so much. If my appendix ruptured I could see having a large bill or if I was getting x-ray work done, I could see paying a hefty sum, but not for something like that.

I understand that hospitals need to make a lot of money for staffing and training on new procedures. To be honest small local hospitals are not doing liver transplants and triple bypasses so they need to receive income from somewhere and something which is a low cost to them i.e. stitches, putting a hefty price tag on it will generate good revenue is a good plan, but it makes healthcare unaffordable when people need it.

Granted a survived my ordeal and will walk away with a pretty nasty scar to commemorate the event, but there are a lot of people who probably would not have taken all the precautions I have by disinfecting the area daily, keeping it covered, and taking antibiotics for it. These are the types who will get an infection and will need to seek serious treatment and even may need to have the area be amputated. Then this person who could not afford the four hundred dollar emergency treatment will default on paying back the hospital the several thousand dollar emergency treatment which will cause for the hospital to find a way to make money back by raising it’s cost on other treatments. A vicious circle indeed. I guess what I am looking for is a way to make health care affordable, or a job with good insurance so it’s not my problem. Go capitalism.