Aug 21, 2009

Kidney Stones and Health Care Quips

Author David Sedaris shares a personal anecdote about healthcare

In a radio interview David Sedaris discussed his adventures in Health Care. Two in the States, one time in France.
"Allow me to answer with kidney stones. I had my first one at the age of 34. At the time I was living in New York, and had no health insurance. Never in my life had I experienced such pain, but I couldn’t afford to go to the hospital, and so I passed it at home, not knowing until the end what it actually was. (I thought I was delivering Satan’s baby through my penis.)

I had my second kidney stone seven years later, in Paris. It was ten o’clock in the morning, and after looking at my options in the phone book, I took the metro to a hospital in the 15th. Two minutes after walking through the door, I was in a private room. Delicious, mind-numbing drugs were delivered to my blood stream by way of a tube and life was beautiful. I was in the hospital for four hours, and as I was leaving, I asked the receptionist how I was supposed to pay.

“Oh,” she said, “We’ll send you a statement.”
“But you never even asked me my name.”

A few weeks later I got a bill for the equivalent of seventy dollars, this because I’m not a French citizen, and am therefore not entitled to free care.

I got my third kidney stone a few months ago, while on a lecture tour of the United States. The hospital I went to was in Westchester county and the service was outstanding. Maybe I arrived at the slowest time, but, like in France, I was waited on immediately, and the doctor and nurses could not have been more pleasant. Again I was there for four hours, though this time the bill came to $5,800. Not including medicine.

I’m completely fascinated by the health care debate going on in the United States, especially by posters of Obama with a little mustache drawn on his upper lip. Is that what Hitler is really known for, his health care plan? To quote Bill Maher, “I haven’t seen this many pissed off old white people since they canceled, “Murder She Wrote.”
Sorry Dave has kidney stones.

But, France doesn't spend what the US spends on defense. France can 'give away' health care to her citizens, and subsidize foreigners. Legal foreigners.

He was charged $5800 in the US because of many factors. One, is that he went to the emergency room. The emergency room has to recoup the costs of the uninsured and also the miserly 30% reimbursement rate that the government pays through Medicaid and Medicare. I'm also guessing that Mr. Sedaris didn't have insurance when he went to the hospital in the States. He could have explained that he would be self pay and could have negotiated with the hospital collections department. But the fact that there are 37 million folks, like Mr. Sedaris that 'opt out' until they have a use for insurance - the rest of us are subsidizing his treatment and care... that is, when the healthy folks WITH insurance don't use the service, we're paying for his treatment. Those costs are filtered to insurance holders through higher premiums and $50.00 gauze at the emergency room.

When patients don’t have insurance, they can go to an emergency room for care and get whatever the hospital decides it can afford to supply them. If you consider that costs draining income from hospitals are two fold: the formerly insured who can’t afford optimal care and the uninsured or indigent who take whatever they can get, a growing tab that hospitals legally must pick up. The hospitals are getting hammered financially from two directions. And those who do pay are on the hook to pick up the slack.

Note - that's 37 million and not the 49 that's being thrown around - the other 12 are illegal aliens. Americans are already paying for their 'free' health care.

And 'Matlock' would have been funnier than 'Murder She Wrote'.

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