|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 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!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!