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Ornery the Eighth, I am

Today's letter is O.
A forewarning: I'm in an ornery and outraged mood. So, if you'd rather check out other "O" posts, I understand completely. Please click here to head over to Alphabe-Thursday, hosted by Jenny Matlock at Off on My Tanget.

The husband and I don't have health insurance. We're self-employed writers in our late 50s, so the cost of monthly health insurance payments would truly put us into deep debt. Fortunately for the past 10 years, we have been able to afford our medical bills and prescriptions, which comes to about a third of what it would be to pay for health insurance. Ornery, the first, about which I am.

Some people think we're taking a big risk by not having health insurance. What if, heaven forbid, one of us needs to go to the hospital? Ornery, the second, about which I am.

A few weeks ago, the husband and I spent five hours in the emergency department at our local hospital. Nothing major, as some of you, dear readers, know.  After all was said and done, the husband went home with 10 stitches in his finger, which was cut deeply by a bathroom wall mirror that split in two. So, how much did we pay for the five hours at the emergency department of which about 30 minutes of medical attention was given?

The hospital bill was just over $1,300. Gulp.  Ornery, the third, about which I am.

The physician who analyzed the x-ray asked for $28 to report that a very tiny sliver of glass was still in the finger. Thank you, doctor, for not charging us more.

The ER doctor who prepped and treated the husband's finger has yet to send us a bill. Hopefully, it will be less than $200.

The husband went to our regular doctor to have the stitches removed. Cost was $62. Here's an interesting aside for you. The doctor spent about 10 minutes with the husband. On his regular quarterly visits, the husband sees the doc for two to five minutes, who checks his blood pressure, listens to his heart, goes over his blood test results, and orders more blood tests to monitor the husband's vital organs. Cost for those visits, between $110 and $200, depending on the number and type of blood tests. Ornery, the fourth, about which I am.

Yesterday, we went to pay the hospital bill. We decided to put it on our credit card rather than jump through hoops to get the documentation to show that we are not eligible for MediCal in order to qualify to pay monthly installments to the hospital. Did you get that? Ornery, the fifth, about which I am.

We were given a 20 percent discount. Huh? The woman at the emergency desk told us that the hospital gives no discounts to self-payers. We could pay monthly though. Fine. Several days later, the husband talked with someone in the hospital's billing office. He confirmed that there were no discounts and he could pay monthly, but only if he did not qualify for MediCal. We already knew that individually or jointly, we weren't eligible, and after reading all the documents that we would need to provide to prove we weren't qualified, well, you get the picture. The least grouchy road was to pay the hospital bill by credit card. Ornery, the sixth, about which I am.

Don't get me wrong, we are very grateful to get the discount. But, I will not be surprised if we get a letter from the hospital saying that they were in error and we still owe them money.

And, yes, I do have a positive spin on all of this: We were not waiting in emergency to be treated for something very major. Still, it is outrageous to pay over $1,000 for 10 tiny stitches. Ornery, the seventh, about which I am.

Non sequitur: The Republicans in the House of Representatives are selfish! They wasted our money to make an obtuse statement to repeal the health insurance reform law. They say they want to replace it with something better. Okay, then, introduce and pass amendments to improve that law, not reinvent the wheel in which they chose not to participate in the first place. Don't even get me started me about how some congresspeople want to deny us, Americans,  from receiving the same type of health care benefits that we pay for them to get. Ornery, the eighth, about which I am.

1/21/11 Update: We received the doctor's bill this afternoon. $1,629 for 10 stitches and 30 minutes of treatment!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


  1. wow ... it sure sounds like a frustrating system ... up here on the other side of the 49th it is so much easier ... but there are pros and cons to everything ... I hope your husband heals quickly!

  2. Yes. I agree with you completely.

  3. Jo, thank you. The husband is back to washing dishes. :-) Life would be so much better if we didn't have people and institutions who love making money on people's health.

    Denise, glad to meet someone else who feels the same way. :-)

  4. It's a real mess isn't it? I grew up without health insurance. Large family. Self-employed dad. Couldn't afford it even then. Now we feel blessed with our coverage no matter how outrageous the costs.

    Hope that finger heals quickly. That looks nasty.

  5. This was a great post! Especially liked the remarks about the republicans! Notice that I didn't capitalize that word--they don't deserve it!

  6. Medical bills and insurance are enough to make Pollyanna ornery!! So, I'd say you're in good company.

  7. yes, ornery and outraged are quite appropriate here. it's a simple issue, really, and fascinating how people continue to vote against their own economic and social interests.
    hey, let me know how i can buy your book. that it really exciting. thanks.

  8. The US is not a place you want to be without health insurance - that is my take on things. The cost of medical treatment and drugs make me want to cry or get very angry.

  9. Thank goodness for the National Health Service! It may be a big, slow, unweildly organisation riddled with prblems, but at least it's there!

  10. Cheryl, the finger is healed. Hallelujah! The cost of emergency has motivated me to take better care of myself.

    Judie, thank you. You're so right. Those bums don't deserve being capitalized.

    mub, glad to know I'm in good company. But, I'm sure Pollyanna would say something like, "Well, at least you're not paying millions of dollars for it."

    Ed, you said it. Sometimes when the wind blows the right way, I can understand why some people won't go against the hand that beats them. But, it still doesn't make sense. As for books, wanna trade?

    helen, the husband and I sending letters to the hospital and the doctors about the excessive bill. We realize it may not affect anything, but it definitely is making me feel more sane that I don't have to shut up and take it. I talked with the ER director yesterday and she was surprised and starting to get outraged at how much their contracting doctors charged us.

    H, if we have to have such a thing as system of health insurance, then single payer is the way to go! My druthers is abolish health insurance completely and bring medical services and healthcare back to a sense of helping people because that's what that is all about.

  11. Be thankful. When my son was born the grand total on all the bills from the birth itself came to over $30,000. We were in the hospital for four days.

  12. NO WAY!!! That doctor's bill is outrageous!
    agree with you!
    I was in the hospital a few years ago (something actually rather simple, it turns out) and I got a bill from the releasing doctor, whom I must state I never saw. The bill was rather large and stated that it was a lengthy checkout. Really?!

  13. I am always outraged about the health insurance issue.

    Because of some chronic medical issues I need to maintain insurance.

    My husband and I are both self-employed. Because he is over 60 we could finally qualify for insurance through AARP which discounted our previous rape and pillage rates down to merely pillage.

    It's horrible when we can't afford to take care of ourself.

    I'm sorry this was so outrageous for you.

    Sorrier still that our country makes it necessary.

    Thank you for linking.

    I enjoyed this thought provoking link.

    I share your outrage.


  14. Alice, it just doesn't make sense.

    Splendid Little Stars, sorry to hear you had the same experience. If we all banded together, would the ubiquitous they hear it.

    Jenny, thank you. Hearing your support and others that I'm not crazy about this really helps.


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