Until recently, my thoughts regarding Health Care in the United States were relatively abstract. I knew the cost of receiving medical care was high because I kept being told it was so. I know the cost of insurance is high because I see the monthly premiums charged by health insurance companies. Not until I became intimately involved with the healthcare system in this country did I become truly alarmed.
A short time ago my daughter fractured her elbow. She was simply running along and fell awkwardly on her arm. It was as simple and undramatic as that. However, the redundancy and costs associated with such a relatively minor injury were shocking. I went to an emergency care clinic hoping to avoid the exhorbitant cost of a trip to a hospital's Emergency Room. A pediatrician and nurse examined my daughter's arm, an x-ray technician took five or six images of her elbow, and a pediatric radiologist examined the images. All of these costly professionals agreed that I should take her to a hospital's Emergency Room to essentially start the process over again, which I dutifully did, only this time in a more costly facility involving yet more costly medical professionals.
Now, my daughter's arm is healed. The cast she wore is a charming momento in my closet. I am grateful. However, the total cost associated with this incident has really woken me up to the profound dangers of leaving such a societally crucial service open to market forces. I recently heard a story where a sales associate working at a big box retailer and making minimum wage, was facing a $5000 deductible. This means that she will be personally responsible to pay for the first $5000 of medical care she receives before her insurance company will even begin to consider paying for the remainder. The speed with which one can rack up a $5000 medical bill is dizzying. Suffice it to say, I am giving serious thought to my daughter not participating in organized sports of any kind and will double my efforts to remain healthy just to keep away from the untenable morass and quagmire we currently have in place.
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Fresh Medicine: How to Fix Reform and Build a Sustainable Health Care System
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Flatlined: Resusitating American Medicine