Sunday, April 13, 2008

self administered medication: $72.63

Seriously, our health care system is totally fucked. The "self administered medication" in question? Two 2.5 mg Percocets I took in recovery, post-surgery. How could it possibly cost $72.63 for a nurse to shake two pills from her bottle, walk five steps, hand me a cup of water and two tablets?

My insurance company will undoubtedly bargain this down significantly. But what of those who have no insurance? How can any single uninsured working person possibly afford to pay $8,900 for the facility fee only for a 90 minute outpatient surgery? That's not even counting the pathologist's fee, the anesthesiologist, the surgeon's hefty pound of flesh, or any of the assorted radiology or lab fees that always fill the mailbox after an encounter with a hospital.

George Bush's solution is "health care savings accounts," whereby American can surely pay for . . . I don't know, maybe a typical prescription which, without insurance, generally runs at least $100 and often as much as $400-500. With the US savings rate in the negative, can anyone besides the ultra rich save money at a pace which could easily cover an unexpected health event like this one? Ninety minutes in the hospital. Ninety. Minutes. Two. Pills. $8,900 and more to come. It's madness.

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Blogger Big Fella said...

In 2006 when I was hospitalized for 10 days, the hospital bill was $100,000. The hospital settled with the insurance company for about $30,000. Last year, while dealing with an illness that was caused by my previous hospital stay, at one point I shelled out $1,000 cash that was never reimbursed for a single prescription, because the insurance company didn't think I needed it.

Republican business values trumping human values, once again.

April 13, 2008 6:31 PM  
Blogger Greg said...

And here's me grumbling about the recent rise in the UK prescription charge to a towering £7.10 ($14) for those of us in work (free to those not working and seniors). That's for ANY prescribed medicine. Everything else is completely free and we SO take it for granted. Anything given to us in a hospital would also come free of charge.

I'm not trying to rub salt into your wound (how much would THAT pain cost to treat?) but just somehow register my total flabbergast/ disbelief/ outrage at the healthcare industry in the US. I watched Sicko last year, of course, and it's coming back to me tonight after reading this - the horror of discovering how poorly you're treated even though you've paid health insurance - disgusting.

The only thing I can think of is that you HAVE to remove the shareholder from the equation when it comes to health (and food production - I'm reading 'Animal Vegetable Mineral' at last). When you place your health and welfare in the hands of commerce, whose only morality is a need to show a profit for shareholders.... that way lies misery.

There's a lot of great things I admire about the US, but healthcare is not one of them.

G x

April 13, 2008 6:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That sound you just heard was my jaw dropping at your story, BAB. Not that I'm surprised. I've been following the health care debate in the US from up here in Canada. It's getting to the point where I'm even afraid to visit your country.

My condolences. Your health (un)care system is nothing short of a nightmare.

April 13, 2008 7:25 PM  
Blogger BigAssBelle said...

Wayne, when Mike was so very sick about five years ago, he was taking two antivirals for Hep C that wasn't covered by insurance because they were "experimental." $1200 for one of prescriptions and $800 for the other ~ for a month, and those were the only treatments available. $2,000 a month at a time when he couldn't even work and I was working as a social worker and if he didn't get the treatment, he'd have died. fucking insane.

and wouldn't it be appropriate since the hospital caused your problem, that they would foot the bill for that $1000? fuckers.

Greg, you all need to grumble because that's how it starts, nickel and dime, nickel and dime, and suddenly you have our "superior" privatized because private is ALWAYS better fucked up system. I've been reading Naomi Klein today, and I am despondent about the all out assault on social democracies, on any kind of benevolent government intervention/assistance in the lives of the governed. The free market is NOT the answer to health care, it's the fucking problem. If Europe falls to this neocon/neoliberal voodoo economics, we're all lost.

and anonymous . . . i feel for you too. you all were roped into allowing the cutting of services based on false information provided by the fucking international bodies that are supposed protect people.

don't come here without buying that extra policy you all can get for traveling in the states. you're in danger of dying if you come here uninsured. it's crazy.

i'm really ranting. i'm really pissed off about this. about the whole fucking system. it's a tragedy.

April 13, 2008 8:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My health insurance costs me and my employer an estimated 20K a year, and I am talking single coverage. I still must come up with 20% of any fee charged, have crappy prescription coverage, and have no dental or vision coverage. The last I spent time in the hospital fighting a MRSA infection (laid in a bed, ate a few meals, while being pumped full of liquid antibiotics) cost over $8000.00, of which I had to pay close to 2k out of pocket, including the emergency room fee, because the Insurance company deemed that a staph infection wasn't an emergency. I was told that if I had waited much longer to be treated, I could have died.

I hate our system, still haven't heard of a plan I can get behind from any candidate, as no one wants to tell the insurance lobbies to fuck off and remove them from the equation. We desperately need public health care in this country, and people in Washington with enough conviction to make it happen. Where are they????

April 14, 2008 4:54 AM  
Blogger Joe said...

I hate to be an alarmist and cower and live in fear -- but is it any wonder that I'm scared to death of leaving my job to relocate back to the east coast, even though I feel my chance are pretty good that it wouldn't take me that long to get a job with equal or better coverage? There's always that "What IF" question -- if I don't get a job with good benefits. Could I see myself applying for Medicare or a state drug assistance program to cover the appx $1500+/month prescription bills? It's scary. Truly.

April 14, 2008 2:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Actually, BAB, I have some pre-existing conditions that insurers would probably use as an excuse to not honour the terms of the travel insurance (that I always buy, nevertheless).

April 14, 2008 5:52 PM  
Blogger Willym said...

Having never paid a doctors' or hospital bill in my life - thank you Tommy Douglas and universal health care - I am stunned by the cost of treatment when I came here to Italy and had to pay it out of my own pocket.

I was equally stunned when I got an estimate for two procedures and a possible 2 day hospital stay of 10,000 EUROS or about 15,000 USD. With the amounts you've quoted I'm feeling a bit - just a bit - better about that figure.

Fortunately we will get it back - but its initial out of pocket expense we're just not use to. Thank God we have the insurance because otherwise retirement income would be quickly disappearing. What the hell do people without insurance do?

April 15, 2008 1:16 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Were you still in Canada when Canadians voted Tommy Douglas the greatest Canadian ever?

Everyone else:

Tommy Douglas was the father of universal health care in Canada.


April 15, 2008 11:15 AM  
Blogger Willym said...

I had just left - but the man definately had my vote. He was also Kiefer Sutherland's grandfather and his daughter Shirley (Kiefer's mother) is a fine actress and political activist. He was an incredible man.

April 15, 2008 2:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The two main reasons why drugs are expensive:

1. It costs a lot of money to research and develop new drugs

2. People are lawsuit happy and sue every chance they get, thereby upping the costs

The alternative? Fewer, less effective, less safe drugs; or being forbidden to sue ver trivial things. I'll happy take the latter. The former, not so much. Sorry, we don't live in a perfect world where everybody can have everything. This is just reality.

April 16, 2008 4:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

THANK You!!! Our lives were utter HELL before we started paying 300/MO FOR HEALTH INSURANCE?!?!

They wouldn't give us medicaid (I have 2 kids, 2 and 4) b/c my Hubby "made 2 muuucchh..." Yeah, right! I'm glad we got it b/c 2 months later my 4 year old Daughter was diagnosed with Type1 we needed that.

Well, now we're behind on our rent by a month and a half, phone cut off, electricity in jeopardy, etc.. Thank-God I at least have this internet paid off for a while b/c I would go CRAZY w/o it!!


April 16, 2008 7:12 PM  
Blogger more cowbell said...

It's insane. I lived my entire adult life under either the military health care or the German/Hungarian systems. I came back here and was horrified at the health coverage I have ... then more horrified to find out that working for a higher ed. institution, my coverage is considered "excellent", and that I should be very grateful for it.

Americans are so much into their goddamned bootstrapper mentality, and can not conceive of another country having a better system than we do.

Have you been able to watch teh PBS ongoing series, Unnatural Causes?

April 27, 2008 3:52 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Just found you through Okie-Doke and boy are we on the same page on this issue!

I write from the viewpoint of an expat' Brit' now here in rural OK permanently and you might like to checkout my similar thoughts. On my blog, right side 'Popular Posts' - Patient Abuse!

I'll be hanging around!

May 05, 2008 3:04 PM  

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