A Fall from the Swings & a Le$$on in Medical Economics

Folks — I am putting this up as an artifact from the nexus of the worlds of parenting, insurance, and medical care. Our correspondent is Anne Boysen,a trend researcher who blogs about the youngest generation at afterthemillenials.com. – L.

The Abominable Insurance Man was never a consideration our parents had to worry about when we sledded like devils down the hills back in 1970s Norway. If neither our well-padded winter overalls nor the white powder surrounding us failed to muffle the impact, we knew that a trip to the ER wasn’t going to bankrupt us, as we would be covered under the (gasp!) universal, socialized health care system.

I have tried to maintain this relaxed attitude toward my own children’s exploration instincts. When my whole body yearned for “rescuing” my toddlers as they climbed the tall structures on the playground, I would remind myself that they needed these lessons in risk assessment and dexterity.

That is, until my daughter’s preschool called to tell me my 5-year old had fallen off the swing.  Thinking it couldn’t be too bad, I spent the drive down contemplating  the upside of taking the afternoon off and spending some quality time with my daughter. Maybe I could treat her to some frozen yogurt on the way home… But when I got there and saw that her lower leg had taken the shape of a rounded L (both tibia and fibula were broken right above the ankle) there was no doubt that an ER visit was in store – and fast, since the pre-school hadn’t given her any sort of pain remedy for fear it would interact with the pending treatment.

Suddenly a new chapter in my otherwise carefree parenting career started, and here is why.

Overcrowded, inattentive ER. When your child is screaming with pain from the top of her lungs and her shinbone is shaped like an L, the last thing on your mind is haggling with hospitals about their charges or your insurance coverage. You want pain medicine and a qualified doctor. Right.Now. So after waiting for an eternity at the mercy of blasé hospital staff who had “seen it all,” my daughter was taken back, given pain medicines and X-rays. After spending about three hours in the ER, the radiologist tells me matter-of-factly that since the fracture went through her growth plate, my Tinkerbell-sized daughter now had a decent possibility of experiencing permanently stumped growth. Oh, and by the way, we can’t treat her here.

So after transportation on stretcher ($$$) and yet another 3-4 hours at another hospital($$$), my daughter is ready to come home in a cast.

 

Google. Have you ever been told not to “self-diagnose” with Dr. Google? How did that work for you? My experience is that it’s amazing how much information on “physeal growth retardation” you can consume at 2 a.m. if you’re motivated enough. Motivated as in driven nuts by fears of years of invasive, painful and expensive leg lengthening procedures. And at 2 a.m. the glass is never half full, only half empty.

 

The Insurance Company. Did you ever read the fine print in your insurance policy? If you wait until after the fact, you will become painfully aware of what it portends. I, for one, found out that in any situation, no matter what happens — cancer, heart attack or just bone fractures as in this case — our insurance company will stop paying what-so-ever after $14,000. During the 6 months we waited for Tinkerbell’s growth plate verdict, I found significant comfort in learning that, thanks to the recent health care reform, my young child’s healthcare future will at least not be tattooed with the “pre-existing condition” stigma.

 

The Bills. Isn’t it ironic that bills for the co-pays always start trickling in only after recovery? I guess it’s the unlucky man’s comfort that he doesn’t go both crippled and indebted at the same time. Only in this case, we didn’t know if there would be a series of expensive treatments in the future. In any case, the hospital bills for the 6-hour long room occupation and the significantly shorter duration of care conjured up a significant price tag (albeit not in the ballpark of those whose misfortunes are more serious). For one thing we learned that “not-for-profit” hospitals feel entitled to $2-3000 admission fees, even when the triage nurse fails to notify you that they can’t treat you. So when they send you to the next hospital, with the next overpopulated waiting room, you will be charged the next admissions fee on top, even when both hospitals are in the same “system.” Not to mention the ridiculous charges that every x-ray, every drop of pain medication, every band aid and every dollop of Vaseline around your IV insertion amount to. The cost problem in American health care is so hot these days that this topic is currently featuring as the longest article ever published in Time Magazine: Why Medical Bills Are Killing Us.

 

To put the inflated healthcare costs in perspective. My father did a cost comparison between treatments in Texas and similar treatment if received in Norway, a country with one of the highest living expenses in the world. Yes, Norway has public health care and most treatments are paid over the tax bill. But this comparison is with private hospitals (yes, they do have private alternatives over there). In other words, we are comparing apples to apples here. Equivalent treatment at Oslo’s private hospital would be 15 times less expensive than the one performed in Austin! And that’s at minimum, because I still don’t have a full idea of how much the hospital charged our insurance.

 

And oh, I didn’t even mention the lawyers who suggested we legally pursue nearly every person who had been at the site of the accident. Or the fact that we as parents could be held liable if we don’t do that, as it could be seen as neglect not to seek adequate funds to cover our child’s future treatment should it be needed.

 

So there you have it in a nutshell. A society arrested by lawsuits, healthcare costs and the agonizing headaches of trying to figure it all out is producing a generation of bubblewrapped, underchallenged kids who lose their sledding privileges. And we’re all worse off for it.

 

The good news: Tinkerbell has fully recovered with no lasting ailment, and is currently testing her bike with training wheels in our backyard.  Bliss. – A.B.

A fall from the swings didn’t always mean lawsuits and thousands of dollars.

 

106 Responses to A Fall from the Swings & a Le$$on in Medical Economics

  1. Russell July 15, 2013 at 7:25 am #

    I’m not sure what the point of an insurance policy with a limit of $14,000 is?
    I’ve never understood why the US is so worked up about healthcare, but I’d never heard about limits. I’d be worked up too!
    My wife used up several hundred thousand dollars of treatments during the last 8 years between surgeries and complications from the chemo destroying her heart, and the final battle. Our health insurance covered every part of it – even the wigs she wore during the worst chemo.

  2. Emily July 15, 2013 at 7:43 am #

    Yeah, Canada has universal health care as well. They won’t cover things like cosmetic surgery, and you might have to pay a bump-up fee for “extras,” like if you want a fibreglass cast rather than plaster, but it certainly doesn’t cost thousands of dollars. Anyway, I’m glad Tinkerbell’s leg has healed, but did you ever find out the verdict about the extent of her growth plate damage?

  3. Coccinelle July 15, 2013 at 7:56 am #

    “the lawyers who suggested we legally pursue nearly every person who had been at the site of the accident. Or the fact that we as parents could be held liable if we don’t do that, as it could be seen as neglect not to seek adequate funds to cover our child’s future treatment should it be needed”

    That is the worst part in my opinion. You could be held liable from whom? The CPS?

  4. Scott July 15, 2013 at 8:08 am #

    Coccinelle – the insurance company, the folks who, legitimately, don’t want to have to pay more than they have to on the claim, so if there is fault, well by gods, the person at fault should pay it, not them. I’ve, thankfully, seen it far more commonly in car accidents.

  5. gap.runner July 15, 2013 at 8:15 am #

    Germany has a system of basic universal health care plus private insurance. If you have private insurance, you are charged a higher rate than if you just have the basic government insurance. Even so, it is very inexpensive compared to the US. A couple of years ago my son sprained his ankle and I took him to the local emergency room for an x-ray. The total bill was around 200 euros (about $260 at today’s exchange rate). That included the fee for the intern who examined him, the senior radiologist who read the x-ray, the x-rays, ace bandage, and crutches (which we got to keep).

    My son sprained his ankle skiing. He and a friend were jumping in a fun park and he had a bad landing. Over here nobody would even think about suing the ski area because someone got injured. A minor injury, like a sprained ankle, is viewed as an unfortunate accident and not a potential lawsuit.

  6. Warren July 15, 2013 at 8:22 am #

    And for all those who complain about healthcare in Ontario, you should read this.

    Our health care system eliminates 95% of all these problems. The biggest problem being eliminated is the haggling over insurance, and what it covers and on and on. It eliminates all that stress.

    @Emily
    You need to find a better family doctor. A good family doctor can word it so that cosmetic surgery is covered for kids. No free boob jobs, or nose jobs for adults. But injury related cosmetic surgery for kids can be covered if your doctor knows and is willing to play the system.

  7. Frau_Mahlzahn July 15, 2013 at 8:27 am #

    OMG! First off, all the best to Tinkerbell and I am glad to read that everything is alright!

    Anyway. After reading this I feel sooo blessed for living in a Country with public health care and no discussion about it! (About the costs of health care, which exploded, yes. But not about public health care as such).

    So long,
    Corinna

  8. Andy July 15, 2013 at 8:31 am #

    “… lawyers who suggested we legally pursue nearly every person who had … we as parents could be held liable if we don’t do that … ”

    If that is true, that would explain “sue happiness” tendency of parents. Whether the case reaches the courts or whether they settle, they greedy lazy you name adjective people, they may simply be scared of being liable themselves.

  9. c July 15, 2013 at 8:43 am #

    I had my eldest in Boston-bills were over 50k (way over-she spent 36 hours in the bicycle) for a 4 day stay. We had great insurance so we paid “only” 250 usd

    Had my 2nd here in Singapore. 6 day stay (c section, jaundiced baby-no shove out the door) and it was less than 10. Of which our worldwide health insurance coveted every last penny. My full prenatal care start to finish (high risk pregnancy, saw Dr & got lots of u/s ) including my emergency c section, cost less than delivering a baby vaginally in the us. Absurd.

  10. c July 15, 2013 at 8:44 am #

    *nicu (phone autocorrect, sorry

  11. Eileen July 15, 2013 at 8:46 am #

    I’ve never heard of an health insurance policy that caps at $14,000? How is that possible. Any hospitalization would likely cost more than that. If that is true, you should be looking for additional coverage asap.

  12. Cindy July 15, 2013 at 8:55 am #

    I do know that my insurance company tried every way to get another insurance company to pay for a CAT scan when my son hit his head on a tree. They ( insurance company) kept asking where the tree was and if it was in a neighbor’s yard. Ridiculous!

  13. Nicole July 15, 2013 at 9:26 am #

    I’ve heard of insurance with $10k caps. Usually it’s insurance for people who can’t afford insurance otherwise and need a private market plan. Other policies will have catastrophic coverage only, and not start until $10k (or whatever other dollar amount) is reached.

    Come 2014, look at getting into the exchange system (or medicaid, if you do not make enough).

  14. NS July 15, 2013 at 9:47 am #

    I’m glad your daughter is recovering well. As a Canadian, I don’t understand the pressure against public health care in the US. My last trip to the hospital was for a case of pneumonia. I spent a week in, was admitted, had a chest x-ray, and an ultrasound, spent two days on o2, was given pain meds, antibiotics, and was on a drip for the full week. At the end, I only paid for the follow-up antibiotics I had to buy from the pharmacy, to take after I’d gone home!

    You guys deserve better than this!

    And as others haev asked:

    “…we as parents could be held liable if we don’t do that, as it could be seen as neglect not to seek adequate funds to cover our child’s future treatment should it be needed.”

    By whom?

  15. maggie2 July 15, 2013 at 10:10 am #

    NS, it is my opinion (rightly or wrongly) that a certain segment of the US population is resistant because they don’t want “their” money used for someone else’s healthcare. In this country, everyone must pull their own weight, or be labeled a no-good, lazy slacker who doesn’t deserve any help. If, for some reason, you don’t make as much as the Jones next door, and your job doesn’t offer healthcare, or poor insurance, or even if it offers insurance but it is essentially unaffordable, or you get sick and actually need to use that insurance, it is ALL YOUR FAULT. You should have done something different, you should have changed something or known better, blah blah blah. And God forbid I should have to pay for YOU. Yeah, Americans are all about helping folks 2 continents away, but people in their own country? Forget it!

  16. marie July 15, 2013 at 10:32 am #

    The biggest problem being eliminated is the haggling over insurance, and what it covers and on and on. It eliminates all that stress.

    The haggling saves me money, Warren. I don’t want to pay for coverage I don’t need. The only ways to stop the haggling are for the government to set the prices or for the insurance companies to collude–eliminating competition.

    Competition is a good thing.

    Example: Insurance companies used to pay for LASIK procedures (back when the procedure was something other than LASIK). People liked that because the surgery was pricey. Insurance companies wised up, cut that coverage and you know what happened? The price of LASIK procedures dropped.

    Again, competition is a good thing. As the article at my link says, Competition gives consumers more choices.

    And choice gives them power.

    We shop around for car insurance and for homeowners insurance to get the best deal. Why not health insurance, too?

  17. librarian July 15, 2013 at 10:33 am #

    maggie2: I think you’re not being fair – many people who oppose universal care are afraid (with some justification) that it will actually lead to an increased pressure from the “worst-first” thinkers and greater restriction on their activities. Once your health becomes public responsibility, what’s to stop “the public” from banning “potentially dangerous” activities (skiing, skydiving, rock-climbing etc.) in addition to other lifestyle-related social engineering. Regretfully, this scenario is quite likely.

  18. Quantum Mechanic July 15, 2013 at 10:35 am #

    Is the OP sure she didn’t have the $14,000 figure backwards?

    Except for some very oddball, specific situations I’ve never heard of health insurance with such a low *cap*. By contrast, I absolutely have heard of insurance where the insurance pays (for example) 80% of the cost and you pay 20% of the cost until the amount you pay hits the $14,000 (or whatever) threshold and then the insurance pays 100% of the cost.

  19. AnotherAnon July 15, 2013 at 10:40 am #

    We had a similar situation with my daughter. She rolled out of bed and gave herself a mild concussion. She was admitted to the hospital, transported to a children’s hospital, given a cat scan, etc., all at the orders of the medical staff.

    Our insurance declined to pay. We had to fight with them, resubmit, write nasty letters, endure collection calls from the hospital and ambulance company, etc.

    I think our insurance company makes a habit of refusing to cover anything, figuring that there’s a certain percentage of the population who won’t know that they have the right to fight that and will just give up and pay.

  20. Marie July 15, 2013 at 10:58 am #

    @librarian How likely is that scenario, really? Perhaps you could name those countries that have universal health coverage that also ban skiing, skydiving, rockclimbing, etc?

  21. marie July 15, 2013 at 11:06 am #

    Just a note that marie and Marie are two different commenters though both have lovely names.

  22. Warren July 15, 2013 at 11:24 am #

    @marie
    I was trying to say that here in Ontario, when I dislocated my shoulder, I walked into the ER, got seen by a triage nurse, was admitted, got xrays I tried to opt out of(I know when my shoulder is dislocated), got my shoulder set, some pain meds, a follow up with my doctor, and the only thing I pay is a small percentage of the prescription from my doctor, as my drug plan covers almost all of it.

    There is no worry about what is covered, how much is covered. No yearly max coverage, and no shopping around.

    As for the banning of activities because of gov’t healthcare, it doesn’t happen. As a matter of fact Canada seems freer than the states, mostly because the lawsuit fever isn’t as high up here.

  23. Racheleh July 15, 2013 at 11:34 am #

    The problem is not the care the problem is the insurance industry itself. Insurance and liability lawsuits are run by Lawyers. The lawyers get paid no matter what happens. The doctors and hospitals pay ruinous amounts to be insured so that when the lawyers sue them the doctors aren’t driven out of business. Then when an injury happens the insurance company does everything possible to not pay. Lawyers drive the cost up on both ends of the equation and laugh all the way to the bank. Our problem is lawyers. They add nothing to the service needed and take everything they can from the system. Its a giant parasitic association and it will last until we wise up and figure out how to kill the “need” for insurance.

  24. lollipoplover July 15, 2013 at 11:44 am #

    I’m glad Tinkerbell is well again but agree that the US system does err on the test more, treat more side.

    My parents called me china girl when I was younger because I broke my arms (and wrists) some 5 times in various spills and athletic pursuit and broke my foot twice. I saw an orthopedic in the ER each time and was put in a cast. They only had to re-cast me once when I decided to swim competitively with the cast on and it was falling apart (though I wore a dishwashing glove and rubber band over it to keep it dry). I healed without agressive treatment and testing.

    Are today’s childrens breaks more complicated or is our technology so superior that we feel the need to use it for every case?

  25. Warren July 15, 2013 at 11:55 am #

    As far as overtesting, it is all about the money. Hospitals in the states are businesses, and as such are trying to make as much profit as possible. The more tests they run, the higher the bill, and the higher the profit.

    When you have a healthcare system based on making profit, the patients are the losers.

  26. S July 15, 2013 at 12:08 pm #

    I really don’t see why the US doesn’t do the obvious thing: copy Canada’s health system!

    Well, probably because of all the whiny, greedy insurance companies.

  27. gepinniw July 15, 2013 at 12:17 pm #

    Thank you for this story.
    I’m continually flabbergasted by these sorts of horror stories about the US healthcare system. The fact that this system can’t be significantly reformed doesn’t bode well for America’s future. If something so obviously dysfunctional and corrupt can’t be fixed, what can be?
    I am so glad Canada has single payer health care. Lord knows, our system is far from perfect, but it is a damn sight better than the American system.
    I’m glad things are okay with your daughter. Best of luck to you in the future.

  28. Donna July 15, 2013 at 12:18 pm #

    “Insurance and liability lawsuits are run by Lawyers. The lawyers get paid no matter what happens.”

    That is not even remotely true. All these type of cases are handled on a contingency fee basis. That means that the injured party’s lawyer only gets paid if the injured party wins. If the injured party loses, the lawyer gets nothing and is, in fact, out thousands of dollars of his own money that he fronted for filing fees and depositions and the other costs of litigation that the injured person is highly unlikely to ever pay now that he has lost.

    “many people who oppose universal care are afraid (with some justification) that it will actually lead to an increased pressure from the “worst-first” thinkers and greater restriction on their activities.”

    Where exactly is the justification for this belief? Has there EVER been a country with universal health care that subsequently banned activities?

    American Samoa – the American part of that should tell you that it IS part of the USA – has universal health care. The healthcare sucks because it is a small island in the middle of nowhere, but it is universal and has been since before Johnson was president. There are absolutely no limitations put on anyone’s activities.

    And it was nice to take my daughter to the hospital to get stitches and pay $30 for the ER visit and another $10 for the antibiotic prescription (required in A. Samoa due to extremely high risk of infection from any cut).

  29. Havva July 15, 2013 at 1:02 pm #

    @Donna,

    Regarding:
    “many people who oppose universal care are afraid (with some justification) that it will actually lead to an increased pressure from the “worst-first” thinkers and greater restriction on their activities.”

    I think that believe comes out of the fact that so many laws and proposed laws against things where you will likely only hurt yourself things are justified on the basis that the person who hurts themselves will (or at least some percentage will) foist the cost off on others through medicare, medicaid and disability. Take for instance seat belt laws for adults, or helmet laws for motorcyclists. Both are often justified on the basis of… “When you end up brain damaged, the rest of us will have to pay for your care for the rest of your life.” Also NYC’s large soda ban, short lived as it was, justified on the basis of reducing long term health costs associated with obesity.

    All that said, I do see how our fear of liability results in more sever restrictions than imposed upon our neighbors to the north. One of my strong memories from visiting Canada as a child was seeing these big metal slides on platforms in the ocean. They looked both cheep and fun. I asked my parents why we didn’t have such things in the US and they blamed the lawyers.

  30. Steve July 15, 2013 at 1:02 pm #

    Unfortunately, our society holds a false belief that doctors are their saviors. And when you believe this, you will do anything and pay anything they ask, EVEN IF THEY DON’T HELP YOU AND KILL YOU IN THE END.

    Even though we know doctors cannot heal everyone and save everyone, we are willing to pay shocking amounts of money for their very flawed treatments. We jump through ridiculous hoops because we’ve decided they are our only hope.

    And what’s worse, because most of society buys into this, we think it’s just fine to steal money from the rest of society to pay for “treatment” for ourselves and our families. (In fact, in many countries including the U.S. the society has decided it’s just fine to steal other people’s money to pay for other people salaries, housing, food, and just about everything else.)

    The high cost of healthcare is only a tiny part of the healthcare problem. When a system is shockingly flawed, and when thousands die every year from medical mistakes, properly prescribed medications, surgical errors, etc., there is something bizarre about only focusing on HOW TO PAY for medical treatment.

    http://www.antidepressant-dangers-non-medical-alternative.eftisland.com/html/hospital_danger_news.htmlhttp://www.antidepressant-dangers-non-medical-alternative.eftisland.com/html/hospital_danger_news.html

  31. CrazyCatLady July 15, 2013 at 1:12 pm #

    What I am hearing from people is fear that their premiums will go up. It is what I heard from the woman at the dentist office. It is what I heard from my mother.

    My insurance is good – when my son took a spill on his bike and got his handle bars in his stomach, I had to pay only $250 for the ER, which included scans and overnight stay. (Which is another thing about our system here in the US – it all depends on what insurance your employer wants to offer you as to how good it is.)

    But…if things stayed the old way, if my husband took another job, (which is likely as they are laying people off right and left) my youngest son would be denied insurance for his “pre-existing” condition. He has had 5 asthma attacks – each following a fever in which I gave him acetaminophen. Now that I know the connection, I do not give him that. But, because he came in once (and has never needed anything like an inhaler or such) he would have a preexisting condition. Even though we have successfully managed his condition and he will likely never have another attack.

  32. sue July 15, 2013 at 1:33 pm #

    where in obamacare does it give you access to medical care? all it makes you do is purchase insurance, which is not medical care. if the physicians don’t take the one you purchase or decline new patients with government insurance you’re out of luck.

  33. Donna July 15, 2013 at 1:36 pm #

    @Havva – 2 laws equals “so many?” And 2 laws where the penalty for failing to comply is extremely minimal? A defendant in a car accident lawsuit can’t even use evidence of a lack of seatbelt or helmet to defend himself against an injury claim by someone (at least in my state). I’m certainly not seeing any justification for any belief for a slippery slope down into nobody is ever allowed to do anything again if we have universal healthcare. Especially since he government already pays a huge medical bill by way of Medicaid, Medicare and subsidized children’s insurance – not to mention the MILLIONS of government employees who have government paid health insurance – and yet we can all still ski, sky dive, and rock climb at will.

    Personally, I have serious doubts about the true viability of universal healthcare in a country this large and diverse and a lack of belief in success based on our current governmental attitude of “must kill everything the other party suggests even if it is positive for our country because complete destruction of the country is better than letting the other party succeed at anything,” but I think the activities will be banned argument is ridiculous.

  34. Hels July 15, 2013 at 1:54 pm #

    Charged with neglect if you don’t sue and something happens? Now that is the true facepalm moment of the week…

  35. Vicky July 15, 2013 at 2:02 pm #

    The insurance companies are getting us coming and going on this one. Part of the reason medical costs are so high here in the US is that doctors have to pay tens of thousands of dollars in malpractice insurance.

  36. Warren July 15, 2013 at 2:15 pm #

    @Crazy
    Would it not have been alot nicer to have visited the hospital, had the scans, and the stay, then walk out without paying out of pocket?

    Also, not having to worry about whether your employer offers what insurance? And if you are unemployed still having the same general access to healthcare, as anyone employed?

  37. Brenna July 15, 2013 at 2:22 pm #

    You know, one of the reasons I liked this site was that it generally stayed away from politics, with the exception of things directly applicable to parenting. Rather disappointed to see this post.

    For all of those advocating for universal health care in the US, what are we going to give up? Because to afford it (the unfunded liabilities for Medicare and Medicaid are in the trillions) there would have to be some serious trade-offs. You’d have to shut down the DoD (and not saying that’s a bad thing, but would send unemployment sky high) just for starters, shut down a number of other federal agencies, and say goodbye to the quality of care you get. Funding for research would dry up in short order. And you’ll be turning over 50% or more of your salary to Uncle Sam. This country is in debt up to its eyeballs. Universal healthcare would exacerbate that situation drastically.

    Let’s just say the system we have now is the absolute worst of both worlds, and move on to topics more relevant to free-range parenting.

  38. mme6546 July 15, 2013 at 2:23 pm #

    um. how ’bout the anti-smoking movement, or anti-obesity movement? both center around “your health affects my walet” type thinking. just sayin’…..

  39. Sarah July 15, 2013 at 2:24 pm #

    I’m going to leave aside the much bigger issues that have already been addressed to make a small point that is smack in the middle of my area of expertise.
    The triage nurse didn’t neglect to tell you that your daughter would have to be transferred for definitive treatment (generating more bills) because she was being difficult or stupid, but because he or she is barred from doing so. Anything that discourages the patient (or parent) from seeking treatment in the hospital’s emergency room can be, with the right lawyer or regulatory official, interpreted as an EMTALA violation. So if I, as a triage nurse, say to a parent with a not critically ill child checking in: “actually, we primarily see adults here but the entrance to the children’s hospital is 20 feet around that corner ” my hospital can be hit with tens of thousands of dollars in fines and I will most certainly lose my job.
    I know it doesn’t make your experience any less frustrating, and if I were a parent on the receiving end of that run around I’d be pissed. But be aware that it’s actually yet another systemic issue, not an obnoxious individual.

  40. mme6546 July 15, 2013 at 2:30 pm #

    um. brenna? medi-both were solvent before they lost the ability to buy in bulk. like the post office, they were MADE less financially functional by the very people who yell about their non-functionality (and by that I mean all politicians, not one specific demographic thereof)
    also, why would quality of care go down? seriously curious on that one.
    also, the vast majority of research, even in us based companies, takes place in other places, and is funded by means that would not be affected.

    also (last one, promise) the medical care bit does impact free ranger thinking, at its base tenents, because its all part of the same worst-first-thinking ball of wax.

  41. mme6546 July 15, 2013 at 2:31 pm #

    um. brenna? medi-both were solvent before they lost the ability to buy in bulk. like the post office, they were MADE less financially functional by the very people who yell about their non-functionality (and by that I mean all politicians, not one specific demographic thereof)
    also, why would quality of care go down? seriously curious on that one.
    also, the vast majority of research, even in us based companies, takes place in other places, and is funded by means that would not be affected.

    also (last one, promise) the medical care bit does impact free ranger thinking, at its base tenants, because its all part of the same worst-first-thinking ball of wax.

  42. mme6546 July 15, 2013 at 2:34 pm #

    ack. sorry for double posting. dunno how that happened…

  43. Christine Hancock July 15, 2013 at 2:35 pm #

    As an American I do take issue with universal health care at this time. Perhaps if we were in an era of prosperity and deregulation we would sing a different tune. But we faced with trillions and trillions of national debt, we are being taxed (directly and indirectly), fined, and charged over thirty percent of our incomes; have to deal with over 11 million foreign invaders on our soil drying up the funds in our social resources; doctors are fleeing the field of medicine in the face of Obamacare; and serious unemployment and underemployment problems. Its the wrong time for any universal health care programs.

  44. Papilio July 15, 2013 at 2:59 pm #

    I was going to tell you about the current basic health insurance discussion here in the Netherlands, but after reading the comments, I realized that would be cruel… :/

    And Donna’s comment on political attitudes make it all even worse. Maybe both parties should split up, to separate the extremes from the middle ground, get some gray between the black and white. Get a better idea of what the majority of the people really wants instead of just asking yes/no questions.
    Naïve, I know.

  45. marie July 15, 2013 at 3:22 pm #

    Thank you to Breanna at 2:22.

    All the ‘wouldn’t it be nice if it were free’ dreams are only dreams. The supplies, personnel, facilities and so on that make up ‘healthcare’ is not free. If you don’t have to pay for it, someone else does. Explain how it is moral for me to force you to pay for the cast on my arm. And extracting taxes from your paycheck is forcing. Try not paying and you’ll see.

    If healthcare were uncoupled from the workplace, we could take our insurance policy with us, no matter where we work.

    Let’s try free range healthcare where we each accept the risks to our own families and we take responsibility for what happens. Also, do your share to fund the charities that help the indigent.

  46. Warren July 15, 2013 at 3:41 pm #

    “Explain how it is moral for me to force you to pay for the cast on my arm.”

    That has to be the lamest reasoning keeping the states in the healthcare darkages.

    Sure you pay thru taxes, but it is no different than having to pay thru insurance premiums. If you live in New York and someone in Dallas needs a cast, and is with your insurance company, you are paying for that cast by your logic.

  47. hineata July 15, 2013 at 3:44 pm #

    Well, I am just eternally grateful for universal health care.

    @Christine – 11 million is a drop in the bucket for your size of population, and yet every time on other sites that health care is mentioned illegals seem to come up too. Why is that? And would there be illegals if they didn’t keep being offered jobs? Seems to me you should be going after the employers if you want to solve that particular set of problems, not set that population group up as a reason to avoid socializing health care.

    @ Steve – it is not about stealing other people’s money, it is about balancing things to ensure everyone gets at least the basics. We pay a lot of tax and were happy enough to do that before, as a civic duty, because we know we are better off than many even in this okay little country. Since discovering DD’s bizarre and relatively expensive illness, we are even happier to do so, as well as being even more grateful to everyone else who pays taxes, and donates blood etc, which here is voluntary and unpaid. I gather people get paid to even give blood in the US, which as an aside can’t help costs any.

    We are none of us the centre of the universe, so we should be trying to help each other out as much as we can. Tax is just a prescribed way of doing that, and IMHO a much fairer way than health insurance, which seems to leave some out in the cold, and too many others with the kind of hassles the OP is describing.

  48. Peter July 15, 2013 at 3:45 pm #

    I was going to suggest getting rid of the training wheels on the bike, removing the pedals, and lowering the seat. Or just buy a balance bike. It is a much better way to learn how to ride a bike. Eventually (soon) your child will be begging for the pedals back, and bike riding like a champ.

    But it looks like everyone here wants universal health care. No thanks. I have no problem with you having it though. If half the country wants it, let them have it and pay for it themselves. It is the insistence that one solution is right for everyone, you are stupid if you don’t agree, and it doesn’t matter if you don’t want it, we will use force to make you comply, that makes me your opposition. Lead by example, and maybe the evidence will bring me to your side.

    Oh, I am right with you about how our current system sucks. But I believe it is all the top down meddling that made it that way. While your side gets the universal care, I’d like you to remove all the meddling my side has to deal with while you are at it. I think it might look a bit like the veterinary medicine world. A hospital stay would probably remain above the $19 a day my cat pays, but I think it might be bearable. Of course the vet hospital costs more than that for the medical care, but it still sounds reasonable.

    TL:DR Use a balance bike. And stop controlling other people, and let them organize what works for them.

  49. marie July 15, 2013 at 3:55 pm #

    Exactly, Peter.

    I don’t know anything about balance bikes…I just chased my kids around a parking lot on their bikes shouting “Pedal like crazy!”

  50. hineata July 15, 2013 at 4:00 pm #

    @marie – taking responsibility is fine if you have money, a job etc. What if you’re without one for a while, which plenty have been recently? Even if health insurance wasn’t tied to jobs, which it often seems to be, how would you pay for it without money coming in?

    Back to the OP, in NZ I am pretty sure any leg injury to a child that looked so obvious would have meant the preschool calling an ambulance. Arms not so much unless the bone is protruding. It seems cruel that in this case the kid was left in this kind of pain for so long.

  51. Uly July 15, 2013 at 4:18 pm #

    Well, Peter, the proof is in the pudding. Find a country with a good life expectancy and low medical costs, and I’ll show you a country with universal healthcare.

  52. Papilio July 15, 2013 at 4:22 pm #

    I guess Canadians and Europeans understand that sometimes you need a bit of control (like socialized health care) to gain a lot of freedom (to do stuff and take risks without consequences like described in this post).

  53. Stafir July 15, 2013 at 4:26 pm #

    Ahh..universe health care..it sounds and looks so wonderful..until you are caught on the wrong side of it.

    I’ve heard too many people who were denied care, sent away with improper care, and the system just waiting until they die to actually do anything. And of course health care being universal..the only way they could get looked at was to leave the country and get a hospital visit in somewhere that the government couldn’t say “sorry you’re not worth it for us to foot the bill”. And instead they foot the bill themselves (whereas they weren’t given the option in their own home country.)

    And lets not forget the latest American scandal with IRS, and them purposefully making it hard on anyone affiliated with a certain political party. Now imagine that gets applied to the ‘universal health care’ that you ‘MUST’ become a part of..and you are given no actual way around. Oh by the way..you..who are affected negatively by this..must still pay for it, through your own paychecks.

    Or heck..lets go to a recent case, of the young girl who had to have her father go to court. And get a judges order, just for her to be treated the exact same way all adults on the list get treated. Not special treatment..he had to have a judge order to get her equal treatment on a life threatening problem. Otherwise she would have died. (Long story short…because she was 10 she was given less priority on some waiting lists..compared adults, only because she was 10…the court case was to get her the same priority an adult gets..they agreed to allow it). What would have changed this otherwise? For her to be just 2 years older…then they wouldn’t have gone to court and pray she wouldn’t die from her current condition.

    No i’m sorry, I say no to universal health care. I don’t want to see it, I don’t want to hear of it, I don’t want to suffer from it if I wind up needing it and I’m on the list of people they don’t care if they live or not.

    The country needs less regulations, less handouts from the government..not more. Also more sense in the stupidity of lawsuits, and more of them just outright thrown out with nobody needing to pay for defense.

  54. Havva July 15, 2013 at 4:48 pm #

    @Donna,

    Did you read to the end? I was explaining, not agreeing with the argument. I think you are right. The government pays for enough people already that the arguments are already being successfully made.

    So I don’t agree with the argument. But I am sympathetic, because I still don’t like “nanny state” laws. Just bike helmets alone has 223 different implementations. I pass through 3 jurisdictions in a typical ride. http://www.helmets.org/mandator.htm

    And it isn’t just bike helmet, motorcycle helmets, seat belts, and sodas. It’s trans fats, formula, 50 different car seat laws, where people can smoke or not (much as I hate being near that). If your kid can walk into a shop without you while you are on vacation, and more.

    So no I don’t think universal healthcare would make it much worse. But I can have sympathy for people with that fear.

  55. hineata July 15, 2013 at 4:58 pm #

    @Staffer – which country are you talking about? Haven’t heard of that sort of situation? Here you seem more likely to have medical types taking people to court to insist on treatment (parent doesn’t believe in certain types of treatment, kid in danger of dying without it), but even that doesn’t happen often. There is sometimes a reluctance to perform say, organ transplants on the over seventy fives, but even that is done on a case by case basis.

    Your post sounds more like an argument for universal healthcare than against it.

  56. Warren July 15, 2013 at 5:16 pm #

    Health insurance in the state…….when you go to buy it, do you have to go thru a physical, does your job if it is high risk come into play, or does everyone pay the same premiums?

  57. Hels July 15, 2013 at 5:41 pm #

    The problem with healthcare debates on on-professional resources is that they are always far too simplistic. Sorry, if there was a magic bullet to fix everything about the US healthcare system, it would have been used already. It is far too interconnected with other aspects of the society and just copying something out of another country’s playbook and leaving everything else the same will not work. Let’s not get into this debate here, since this is not the focus of this blog.

  58. Donna July 15, 2013 at 6:03 pm #

    @Warren –

    Depends on what type of insurance you are talking about. We have private purchase insurance and employer purchased insurance. I’ve never known either to involve a physical.

    Private pay insurance considers many things when setting premiums – Age, medical history, habits (smoking etc), job. It can (or could before Obamacare) exclude you for any pre-existing condition, locking anyone who has/had a medical issue into one provider with no ability to shop around for lower rates. Usually these people end up uninsured within a few years because the premiums, which increase every year, get too high for them to pay.

    Employer provided health insurance insures everyone at the same premium. The insurance contract is negotiated by the company. Depending on the employer, you may have several different policies to pick from or you may be limited to one. If there are different options, each option will cost different amounts but everyone who chooses that option pays the same. Usually the employer pays some percentage of the premium and you pay some percentage. If you want to include your dependents, you pay extra for then and usually pay a higher percentage or all of their premium.

    Employer based insurance is usually much cheaper and better than individual pay insurance. That is because the risk for the insurance company is spread out across all the employees. While some will get sick, most will pay premiums and never use the health insurance beyond routine medical care, particularly in today’s economy where few people stay with one employer for their entire career.

  59. Donna July 15, 2013 at 6:19 pm #

    Warren –

    Job is not a large consideration in health insurance. This goes back to the many many different insurances in America. Work injuries are covered by separate Worker’s Compensation insurance, your health insurance would not pay. For example, if I am standing outside my office and I get shot by a random thug, my health insurance pays. If I am standing outside my office and I get shot by a disgruntled client, worker’s compensation pays. Same exact injury; two different payers.

    This is why the system is so screwed up and there are so many lawsuits to try to sort this crap out. My grandmother has dementia and my aunt lives with her and takes care of her. I pay my aunt a small salary ($400 a month) out of my grandmother’s estate so that my aunt can afford to do this. We’ve been told that we now need worker’s compensation insurance because if my aunt injures her back helping her own mother up, health insurance will not pay the bills. However, if my aunt lived with my grandmother doing the exact same thing without the $400 a month, she would just be a dedicated daughter and health insurance would pay. It is insane.

  60. Warren July 15, 2013 at 6:31 pm #

    Thanks Donna, I was asking about the privately purchased, mostly. So if you rely on private insurance, you could wind up seriously jammed up, with their screening.

    We carry additional coverage up here for us and our employees. More commonly referred to as benefits. To offset things like drugs, glasses, dental and private hospital rooms.

    The way we did it was our insurance company had 3 different levels of coverage. Telling our guys we would cover the cost of the basic, they could pay the difference to upgrade, but all had to agree on it. They chose to pay to upgrade to the second level of coverage. Not a bad plan, basically the same as the top level but with annual caps on things like massage, chiropractic, accupuncture and other such things. Right now the average cost of a perscription is running about $1.60, under the plan, depending mostly on what pharmacy they use.

  61. JaneW July 15, 2013 at 6:57 pm #

    The economic arguments against single-payer health care make no sense. The costs of the private system are a drag on the economy, and we can’t afford NOT to do it.

    We wouldn’t be spending billions on transaction costs any more (The health insurance companies and the medical staffers who negotiate with them soak up a LOT of money without actually caring for anybody). The national health care program would be able to negotiate drug prices with the manufacturers, bringing down prices all across the board. Best of all, I really do believe that personal-injury lawsuits would go way down if accident victims no longer needed to sue just to pay for medical care.

    I can kind of comprehend the ideological arguments from extreme libertarians. I disagree, but I understand. The economic ones, however, are flat out wrong, by the numbers.

  62. marie July 15, 2013 at 7:13 pm #

    The Surgery Center of Oklahoma City posts its prices online so you can see what the cost will be. The only way they could do this was by refusing to take Medicare and Medicaid patients–federal regulations would not have allowed the surgical center to charge the low prices they are charging.

    The effect of posting the price menu online? COMPETITION. Other facilities are being asked to match the prices and, to keep from losing patients, are trying to match the lower prices.

    Competition is the ideal situation. If the federal government would get its fingers out of the healthcare pie, we would all benefit. We shouldn’t just want free healthcare–because it isn’t really free; we should be looking for reasonably priced healthcare. The patients going to this clinic aren’t sitting back sucking their thumbs while the government negotiates a price for them–they are negotiating their own prices.

    We admire parents who prepare their children for the world and we resent politicians and government entities that get in the way of that goal. We admire parents who, dissatisfied with public education, decide to homeschool. We admire people who control their own destiny.

    But when it comes to healthcare, we’ve been brainwashed to thinking that somehow healthcare is HARD, that healthcare is different and the usual economic laws don’t apply. Wrong. Stand up and fight for the ability to control your own healthcare.

  63. Kat July 15, 2013 at 8:20 pm #

    My 7yo daughter broke her wrist earlier this year. She had X-rays and it was deemed that she had to have her wrist set under a general anaesthetic. She had a hospital stay over night. We were not charged all for any on the hospital or theatre usage. In Australia this is all covered under Medicare. The only charge we had was for $80 for the fibre glass cast.
    My family has private health insurance but the hospital stay was all done under the public health system. 2 years before I gave birth to twins at 34 weeks and stayed for 14 days on a private hospital. This was all covered by my private health insurance. We had to pay $400 for our yearly excess fee. I’m thankful that I live in Australia.

  64. Emily July 15, 2013 at 8:57 pm #

    I am one of those libertarians who is idealogically against universal healthcare… but practically speaking, I can see perks. I do believe we need big changes (beyond obamacare) because the current system is a healthcare cartel. I think the problem is we see so little of the money and that clouds our judgment. I have paid out of pocket before… and it is rather nice (and often gets you a good discount).

  65. Michelle July 15, 2013 at 9:24 pm #

    We read the fine print in our insurance policy every single year when my husband’s employer renews it, to see what changes they’ve made. It’s boring, we hate to do it, but we want to know what coverage we have. It’s just one of those unpleasant things you have to do.

  66. Donna July 15, 2013 at 9:37 pm #

    Nobody except those who are against universal health care use the term “free health care.” It is understood that we are paying for health care through taxes as opposed to through insurance companies that do nothing except jack up the prices (again, I’m not convinced under the current state of US governance, that the government will do any better).

    “I have paid out of pocket before… and it is rather nice (and often gets you a good discount).”

    Really? And where is that happening? Because I’ve also paid out of pocket. There was nothing remotely “nice” about it at all unless you enjoy getting treated like a second class citizen.

    And out-of-pocket is only possible for mild illnesses and injuries. No average person can afford to pay for a serious illness or injury in the US. Those run in the millions of dollars for even the best negotiator on the planet.

  67. Jenn July 15, 2013 at 9:53 pm #

    One thing I’ve noticed with universal care in Canada: with the America system, doctors `push’ surgery because a) they get more money and b) they fear lawsuits. My daughter has CCAM (Cystic Congenital Adenomatoid Malfunction), benign tumours on her left lung which was found on a routine ultrasound when I was pregnant with her. Fifteen years ago, CCAM was never diagnosed in utero, a child or baby would have symptoms, which would prompt surgery. Today, thanks to advanced technology, CCAM is mostly found in utero.

    In Canada, many surgeons take the approach that those without symptoms, or minor symptoms, don’t require surgery. My doctor has argued that there are many people who have a CCAM and will never know because ultrasound technology didn’t catch it, or didn’t exist when their mothers were pregnant with them.

    There is a 4% chance that it could be malignant and many doctors in the US (in particular) push for surgery because of that very reason. They put fear into a parent that their child *may* have cancer. The child has no symptoms whatsoever, and is under a physician’s care but still, this child requires surgery `just in case’. I am a woman who has breasts. I have a 12% chance of getting breast cancer, just because I am a woman who has breasts, yet no doctor has ever suggested to me, or anyone I know, that we should have our breasts removed, ‘just in case’ (I do know some women who have a family risk which makes their percentage much higher and they are recommended to take precautions).

    My daughter is almost seven years old and still no symptoms, In fact, her doctors believe that she actually may have Bronchial Artesia, a condition that doesn’t require surgery and most people live symptom-free for decades. If we lived about 100 km south, my daughter would have been pushed for surgery when she was an infant ‘just in case’. There would be no reason for it. ‘Just in case’ it was cancer. ‘Just in case’ she developed symptoms. ‘Just in case’ we decided to sue because she got sick down the road. I can not believe that the American medical system allows babies and children to have unnecessary surgeries. That they PUSH parents into thinking that a good parent would do what is best, ‘just in case’ because ‘you never know’.

    Well, I do know! I know that my daughter is healthy. I know that whenever she is ill, my doctors take extra precautions with her and will take her without waiting, prescribe any diagnostics or medications that she may need (her constipation as a two year old sent her to ultrasound to be sure that it was that and not spreading tumours- my son’s constipation sent him to the grocery store to buy more fibre!). Because I have universal health care, doctors aren’t afraid to prescribe diagnostics to rule out issues. Doctors take an oath when they become a doctor to take the least invasive procedure possible. How is the removal of a lung or lobe on a healthy infant the least invasive procedure? Especially when you look at my (almost) seven year old and think, “no one would ever have known that she has a CCAM if it weren’t for that routine pregnancy ultrasound”. Sometimes, medical advancements have made us think worst case first.

  68. Warren July 15, 2013 at 10:17 pm #

    Competition? Really? When you are talking about surgery, you want to shop around and get the best price? I have never heard something so insane in all my life.

    Hell I don’t even shop around for a mechanic. I know the one I have now is middle of the pack price wise, there are alot cheaper, but none I trust.

    So to promote true competition, hospitals and doctors will be what holding boxing day sales on procedures? Buy 1 get your next surgery half off? Or just simply trying to undercut the next guy?

    So if hospital A is overing the same procedure for 30% less than hospital B, where do you think the 30% is coming from? Profits? I highly doubt it. Quality is normally the first thing sacrificed. In a take out pizza I can live with that. In healthcare, not on your life.

  69. Dee July 15, 2013 at 10:30 pm #

    Regarding paying out of pocket: when I had my son, I had to have a C-section. It wasn’t a scheduled section on my part or the doctor’s – rather it was at 42 weeks gestation, no contractions, induction didn’t take affect – they boy needed to get out.

    Thankfully I was working and thankfully we had company-sponsored insurance (at one point my employer had pulled insurance – WITHOUT telling us, but that’s another story). We paid about $800 out of pocket, but the bill showed what the non-insurances rates would have been – $36,000. That was probably about what I was making a year and my husband was out of work. What would we have done had we not had insurance??? Anything that gives more people insurance is a GOOD thing.

  70. anonymous this time July 15, 2013 at 10:45 pm #

    I had a reverse situation where I was still a US citizen, carrying American “catastrophic” health insurance with a huge ($5,000… or was it $10,000?) deductible on each member of the household, and gave birth in a country with a single-payer health care system. I remember that I had every intervention possible, 6 days’ hospital stay, and had received absolutely superior care, albeit in a maternity ward that wasn’t going to win Martha Stewart’s seal of approval (no fancy whirlpools, recliners, or whatever frills and whistles I remember being advertised on US “birthing centre” billboards to court pregnant women’s health care dollars). The bill had to be paid by us and sent to Blue Cross in the US for reimbursement. Man, did they get off easy on that one! I think the total bill was something like $15K, as opposed to $150K. All of my prenatal care was ridiculously cheap as well, paying it out of pocket. And again, instead of seeing an OBGYN for a routine healthy pregnancy, I just saw a GP who had an office in the basement of her house. It was all very down-to-earth and I loved it.

    A lot of hand-wringers told me that I was risking my life to move to a country with a single-payer system. Wow. They couldn’t have been more wrong, really. And boy, are we saving money! So much for being “bled dry” by higher taxes.

  71. Robin from Israel July 16, 2013 at 1:51 am #

    So grateful I live in a country with universal health care – and GOOD healthcare at that.

    Last summer while visiting the US my son crushed his finger in a car door. 3 hours and $1,400 later we walked out of the ER with… a bandaid. A $1,400 bandaid.

    Thank goodness the travel insurance I had purchased covered all but $50 of that.

    The US system is utterly and completely broken.

  72. bmommyx2 July 16, 2013 at 3:10 am #

    Medical cost in this country are absolutely insane. I had a trip to the ER & got a 5 min exam on a gurney in the hallway & an X-ray & the bill was over $1500. My 2 yr old had a fever that wouldn’t go away so the doc ordered a blood test & it cost over $500. The are the bills after the insurance discount. Sometimes I’m afraid to have anything done. I feel like all I do is pay doctors bills. All this is after paying a small fortune in monthly premiums. When my mom had a baby she didn’t have insurance & could easily afford the doctors & hospital bills. Now there is no way.

  73. Suzanne July 16, 2013 at 8:11 am #

    Don’t even get me started about how bad the health care system is here in the US and getting worse every year. To Eileen and anyone else who suggested Tinkerbelle’s mom seek additional coverage – health insurance is so very expensive it’s insulting to suggest that she hasn’t already procured the best she can afford. I know the insurance my husband’s company provides has steadily declined and now covers very little with huge co-pays and deductibles. Except preventive, that’s all covered really good but what I care more about it corrective – when the bone is already broken or an appendix infected those non-preventative care costs are crazy now. Reading about the health care elsewhere in the world makes me want to move.

  74. Amanda Matthews July 16, 2013 at 1:21 pm #

    My problem with “universal healthcare” (and I put that in quotation marks because it is really universal INSURANCE, which is separate from healthcare) is that it removes my ability to make a CHOICE.

    OP’s insurance is a great example; they will only pay $14,000. How much, over the entire time she is with the insurance, will she pay into it? Probably much more than $14,000. And if she could instead put that money into an interest-bearing account, or invest it, she could end up with so much more than $14,000. And without insurance, you can negotiate the cost of health care. So basically, when a huge hospital bill did come, she would actually have the money to pay for it, rather than the insurance company having took her money and leaving her with a huge bill.

    If I choose to do that (go without insurance) I should have the right to make that choice (without being fined for it; because that pretty much removes the choice). If I choose to use nothing but faith healers, I should be able to make that choice. And I should not have to pay for the choices of others.

    Everyone in the US has the same access to healthcare. If your insurance doens’t cover a doctor you want to go to, well, I have NEVER seen a doctor refuse someone wanting to just pay. I pay, and I can go to that doctor; you pay, and you can go to that doctor. Our jobs, income, what insurance we have or not, etc. etc. doesn’t matter if we just pay (rather than pinkie promising to pay later).

    If I’m without a job, well I still don’t expect others to be forced to pay for me. I find another way to make money, or look to the people that are CHOOSING to hand me money.

    Sure it would be nice to get everything I needed or wanted without having to open my wallet… but NOT at the expense of others.

    And yes I do think theres should be competition. Then people can CHOOSE to pay a lower price and get lower quality, or pay a higher price and get higher quality. With the current methods, you get what you get, MAYBE you can choose from a small pool of options, and quality can be low because they know you have no/few other choice. Yes, the fact that you have to shop around when you need health care sucks, but due to the nature of humans, we aren’t going to just give each other the best possible care for free.

    “We paid about $800 out of pocket, but the bill showed what the non-insurances rates would have been – $36,000. That was probably about what I was making a year and my husband was out of work. What would we have done had we not had insurance???”

    You would have payed it bit by bit. They wouldn’t have taken your whole paychecks for a year. You paid $800 out of pocket but take a look at how much is taken out of your paycheck for insurance – I’ll bet you’ve payed more than $36,000.

  75. SKL July 16, 2013 at 2:13 pm #

    I agree that this is ridiculous, and no, I don’t believe socialized health care will fix it. We have a distorted view of the role medical professionals should play in our society.

    When my daughter was 3, I took her to the ER because she had busted her head open. I should not have done that. I should have waited until the next morning and taken her to our regular doctor. The ER should be for people who really can’t wait until the next business day. If people would act accordingly, then little girls like Tinkerbell would have had a somewhat easier time.

    And most of the trouble is due to layers upon layers of CYA, which is because of lawyers and greed. (I happen to be a lawyer, so I can say that. 😉 ) National healthcare won’t do away with lawyers or greed.

    I pretty much don’t go to MDs / hospitals any more. My family goes to a chiropractor, where it is 100% out of pocket and still costs us less in time and money, aside from the fact that they actually do something for us. And we all love going there. Unfortunately, I still have to pay about $10,000 per year in health insurance just in case we have an big incident that the chiro can’t deal with. :/

  76. Lori Hudson July 16, 2013 at 2:31 pm #

    Competition? What competition? If your employer doesn’t offer group health insurance and you have to look to the individual market, good luck! The chances of finding one that will take you with pre-existing conditions is almost nil. If you do happen to find one, they will exclude your pre-existing condition from coverage. I know this because I am in exactly that situation. My husband’s employer just dropped our health coverage. One of my son’s has a few medical issues. I was turned down for individual insurance because I take an anti depressant. My husband was turned down because he doesn’t go to the doctor enough! SERIOUSLY! Oh yeah and now that we have been declined by a company, no other insurance company will even look at us.

    We are currently sending out resumes to international companies, so we can live and pay taxes in country that offers universal healthcare. I am also considering leaving my high paying job to work at ANY job that offers health insurance. That includes becoming a barista at Starbucks.

    Thanks to Obamacare (yes thank you so much!), on January 1, 2014 we will be able to get health insurance that cannot exclude our pre-existing conditions, like my husband’s condition that makes him healthy and prevents him from going to the doctor. Because of the uncertainty of the cost or benefits of this new insurance, we are still sending out resumes. Until we find a solution, we will be flying without a net and praying for no cancer diagnosis, spinal cord injury, traumatic brain injury or any other situation that would cause us to have to declare bankruptcy and lose everything we have worked so hard to achieve.

  77. SKL July 16, 2013 at 2:39 pm #

    I don’t know if it was included in any laws so far, but I do recall that Obama / like-thinking legislators were saying that Obamacare benefits could be withheld if people chose not to bother with preventive healthcare. So I’m not sure the choice to *not* go to the doctor when you aren’t sick will be forgiven any more quickly than it is now. (Which, I’ve never heard of being refused for that, and I’ve gone many years without having/seeing a doctor and still got insurance, but whatever.)

  78. Papilio July 16, 2013 at 3:52 pm #

    Someone more sarcastic than me once said, ‘It’s amazing to me how those Americans can be so selfish on weekdays that they refuse to pay a fraction of someone else’s medical bill every month to have the favor returned in case they need medical attention themselves, only to go to church on Sunday and hear about ‘Love thy neighbor’ and the story of the Good Samaritan.’

    Yes, sure, people can save up money in case they have to pay some medical bill. Some people will indeed never need (all of) it, but others need far more than they can ever save. There is no perfect recipe to stay healthy and avoid every possible injury all your life and then die of old age.
    So if your monthly fee doesn’t go to your own medical care, then maybe it goes to your cousin’s special needs kid, or the neighbor’s hip replacement, or to some complete stranger who got hit when a car ran a red light. Maybe one day they help pay your bill. Maybe they already have. And maybe you won’t ever need their money.

  79. Warren July 16, 2013 at 4:03 pm #

    @Amanda
    Do you really think going into 36K worth of debt for one medical issue, is better than universal healthcare like we have in Ontario?

    I cannot believe the people saying basically they would rather gamble with their families future, than feel like they made someone else pay for their casts.

    Want to now how I qualified for my health coverage……was born and still live in Ontario. Man the hoops I had to jump thru.

  80. Andy July 16, 2013 at 4:10 pm #

    If I’m hit in a car and waiting for ambulance, if I’m in pain or if my kid need urgent care, I’m not exactly in position to negotiate anything.

    I do not have time or possibility to google out which tests are needed and which tests are not needed. I can not go out and buy cheaper band-aids. I can not compare prices in hospitals over everything that might be needed and then refuse incoming ambulances until the right one comes.

    That competition and market solves everything theory works as taught in econ 101 only if everyone has perfect information and possibility to shop around. Which is not case of health market.

    Uninsured are in as perfectly free market situation as possible and as far as I know, they get to pay higher prices then insurance companies. They are not in position to individually negotiate lower prices, they get higher one instead.

  81. Warren July 16, 2013 at 4:11 pm #

    @Pap

    I think alot of them are living a fantasy of it could never happen to them.

    Little do they understand that just slipping can cost them thousands. Broken akle, surgery with implants, allow the imaging, the follow ups, the physio and on.
    And are they going to sit on the couch for a couple of days in pain, waiting for estimates to come in from doctors, so they can shop for the best price?

  82. Andy July 16, 2013 at 4:14 pm #

    Also, that saving money in bank account strategy assumes that one earns a lot of money. It also means that one has no insurance at all for years, until one saves that huge amount of money.

    Even people who eat perfectly, exercise and never do anything risky get sick or hurt occasionally – even as young.

  83. Steverino July 16, 2013 at 4:50 pm #

    I find it fascinating that Free-Rangers have such a diversity of opinion on this topic. I would have expected more people to fall where (little “m”) marie does on the continuum. I have my own opinion, but I won’t weigh in.
    The complexities and cost of health care truly are important considerations when assessing the risk of any of your kids’ activities. That’s what we’re all about, right? Here’s my risk assessment: Catastrophic injury or sickness falls into the category of severe consequence/low probability. So it’s prudent to take reasonable precautions that aren’t too expensive or disruptive. But I don’t expect I’ll be moving to Canada or Norway to take advantage of their health care system.

  84. Papilio July 16, 2013 at 4:51 pm #

    @Andy: Yes – just think of sports injuries! So much for that healthy lifestyle!
    About earning a lot of money… I didn’t mention that because I assumed the money saved each month would be as much as the insurance fee would have been…

  85. Warren July 16, 2013 at 6:03 pm #

    @Steverino
    No the complexities and cost of healtcare do not enter into the risk assesment. That is why Canada is way cool. Don’t matter if you skydive, deepdive, ski, handglide or streak football games, you are covered.

    And yes to all those people that say why should they pay for injuries I incur doing risky things……because I don’t mind returning the favour to pay for your triple bypass because you are to afraid to get off your ass.

  86. Warren July 16, 2013 at 6:05 pm #

    And please remember these wise words from George Carlin, “A healthy diet, and a healthy lifestyle, is only the slowest possible way to die.”

  87. SKL July 16, 2013 at 10:42 pm #

    I don’t really want to argue about universal healthcare insurance *again* but I’ll just say in my 46 years of living among the US poor / working class / middle class, I have never known anyone who could not go to the doctor or hospital when treatment was needed. I’ve known people who had nothing (indigent) and got free world-class treatment, and for that reason alone are alive to talk about it. And I don’t know one single person who has had to declare bankruptcy over healthcare bills. I hear about all these stories, and they are probably true, but they must also be rare. Blown out of proportion (like lots of other things) for political purposes. Just my two cents’ worth.

  88. NS July 17, 2013 at 9:32 am #

    There is a lot of talk here about universal healthcare being, somehow free, and of others having to pay for their neighbor’s care. This is unmitigated flim-flam.
    I paid for my care, and continue to pay for it, and pay for any future care I might need. I have health insurance, it comes off my pay, and goes to the province I live in, and that insurance plan pays for my care. There is no cap on the number of times I can receive treatment, and no matter how many times I change jobs, I still have the same insurance. Where I live it’s called the Ontario Health Insurance Plan, and that is how we handle universal care.
    Do some folks get care who are not working, and so are not paying in? Yes, they do, and that is fine with me. I don’t think I could have any pride in the country I live in if it didn’t take care of the most vulnerable people in our society, if we didn’t look out for our neighbors. Most work, and pay in. Some never need care, and good for them. They paid an insurance premium to be covered if they ever had the bad luck to get sick or injured. If you don’t complain about all the payouts your car insurance company makes, when you haven’t been in a crash, or your home insurance when your house doesn’t burn down, complaining about another type of insurance payout your not getting because you’re not the one that needs it is, not to put to fine a point on it, hypocritical.
    Oh, Christine Hancock, take a look at when Canada brought in UHC… it doesn’t make bad economic times worse, it helps make them better. Think about it. Doctor go to work, knowing they’ll get paid. Not might get paid if their lawyers are better than their patient’s lawyers, but 100% will get paid. Sick and injured people get treatment, and go back to work. Lots of economic activity, and the only people loosing out are lawyers and insurance executives. I’ll try not to shed too many tears.
    As for the underlying racism (foreign invaders, really? Are you Native American, or just a bigot?), those 11 million you’re talking about are paying taxes. Sure, some work under the table, and aren’t paying income tax, but most are, and even if they aren’t, how are they spending that money without paying tax? Do you need a green card to pay sales tax now? Did they start giving away housing at some point, and nobody told me? Do people really get their licences out of Cracker Jack boxes? Governments the world over point to “foreigners” and cry poor whenever they want to raise taxes, or cut some program, yet the US is still spending money like crazy on military hardware, to the point that there is now a cottage industry for consultants on how, as a small town, to get a grant for armored cars, and all the tech to make you’re local police force into Seal Team 6. Tell me again why they can’t afford to look after the health of their own citizens?

  89. Amanda Matthews July 17, 2013 at 6:53 pm #

    @Warren “I cannot believe the people saying basically they would rather gamble with their families future, than feel like they made someone else pay for their casts.”

    Saving the money to pay for health care is not gambling.

    The current method in the US – where you pay in, and then IF you get a big medical expense, MAYBE it will be paid for – now THAT is gambling. And I want no part of it. I’d rather have that money where I KNOW I can use it for health care if needbe.

    “And are they going to sit on the couch for a couple of days in pain, waiting for estimates to come in from doctors, so they can shop for the best price?”

    But if we got to CHOOSE, we could CHOOSE to not wait and just take the first doctor that was open; or we could CHOOSE to wait and shop around.

    @Andy

    You can plan all that stuff out ahead of time. I.e. if I get in a car accident, I will go to x hospital. And if you are allowed to choose, you can just put down that in the event of an accident the doctors should do whatever test they feel necessary. With the current method, doctors do whatever tests they are pretty sure the insurance will cover, and wait for the insurance to say that yes, they will cover others.

  90. Natalie July 17, 2013 at 8:39 pm #

    Yeah, healthcare is a beast. And I don’t think there is a simple solution. There’s problems with both systems. I’ve heard some other suggestions besides copying Canada’s UHC program: running health insurance like car insurance, have hospitals advertise their prices, and give you an estimate up front, which makes it easier for people to shop around and actually understand their medical bills (some hospitals have started doing this). Some say that competition does bring prices down, some say that healthcare doesn’t work that way. Nobody seems to know for sure.

    I read an article that described an uninsured couple trying to find a good birth deal. Some hospitals now offer “birth packages”, some doctors will lower their prices if asked. It’s hard to tell what the rules are.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/01/health/american-way-of-birth-costliest-in-the-world.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

  91. Natalie July 17, 2013 at 8:59 pm #

    There are some advantages to UHC: it being cheaper overall is the overwhelming advantage, and everyone has basic coverage, elderly, people with pre-existing conditions, etc.

  92. Natalie July 17, 2013 at 9:15 pm #

    Lenore, there’s something wrong with your comments section. For whatever reason, I’m not always able to post, it only took part of my comment.
    Is anyone else having this problem?

  93. Natalie July 17, 2013 at 9:20 pm #

    Also, the link to the referenced blog doesn’t work, and that isn’t the blog’s address, there’s probably some small change.

  94. Warren July 17, 2013 at 10:31 pm #

    You know what Amanda you want to treat your family’s health the same as shopping for a used car, go for it.

    I will stick with my family doctor who knows my family’s health history, rather than jump from doctor to doctor depending on how much they are charging that week. I will continue to save money every year, knowing that I can do whatever the hell I want with it, because I do not need to have thousands of dollars set aside for healthcare.
    And it is a sound sleep, knowing that if anything were to happen one call, and the Rescue truck from the Fire Dept. shows, followed by the paramedics, then into the ER, followed by any and all treatments. And when all is said and done, the only thing owing is gratitude.

  95. NS July 18, 2013 at 12:35 pm #

    @Warren.

    Amen.

    Canada’s UHC is NOT the best, I won’t make that claim, and even if I could, it would never be perfect, I don’t think there is a 100% ideal model that would work in the real world. That said, I’d rather deal with the issues we have here, than have to rely on the system in the US (both pre- and Post-Obamacare). I’ve lived in both countries, and I can tell you, US healthcare is a disgrace. Worrying about how to pay when your in physical distress? I’d like to meet a “physician” that thinks that is beneficial…

  96. Rachel July 18, 2013 at 9:46 pm #

    I have far too much experience with our health care system given that my family is riddled with chronic illnesses!

    just wrote a blog piece myself on how ridiculous our health care system is.

    It’s called “Imagine if Education were provided like Health Care in America (Throw out the Universal Education System and bring in the Education Companies!)”

    you can find it at:

    http://chronicaction.org/imagine-if-education-were-provided-like-healthcare-in-america

    I also posted trivia comparing the U.S. health care system with the rest of the world:

    http://chronicaction.org/trivia-part-i/

    Best,
    Rachel

  97. Natalie July 18, 2013 at 9:55 pm #

    I read that the US gets a “D” on the report card for healthcare that some organization or another prepares

  98. Warren July 19, 2013 at 1:16 am #

    @NS

    I have no problem whatsoever with healthcare in Ontario. I think one of the problems is that too many people expect to be treated like royalty by the healtcare system.

    Because of injury, I have had nearly every type of diagnostic imaging going. Never had the urban legend 18 month wait. Never took more than a week to get an MRI. Surgeries, physio, you name it, always got great treatment.

    My family has always be given what they need when they need it.

    I used to get crippling migraines, for about a ten year period, at aprox. 3 a year. If my script didn’t fix it a trip to the ER, and within the hour treated and on my way home. 4 different hospitals, during that period, and all with great staff, no huge waiting times, just allround good experiences. Napanee, Cobourg, Ajax and Port Hope, before they shut it down.

    Ontario may not be the best, but it is damn good.

  99. Rachel July 19, 2013 at 11:01 am #

    @NS and @Warren

    I live in the U.S. and wish we had universal, single-payer health care.

    Actually, most Americans want what Canada and Europe have. A NYTimes/CBS poll back in 2009 showed that 72% of Americans wanted universal health care run by the government. But you wouldn’t know it from our media and reluctant politicians.

    I have a friend from England whose mom has been very sick. Her doctor makes house calls and she is getting excellent treatment. England’s also done a fine job with Stephen Hawking.

    We are fools in the US for accepting the health care system we have.

    Rachel

  100. Warren July 19, 2013 at 11:11 am #

    Rachel,
    Not fools, but victims of the healthcare industry, that is profit driven. Healthcare companies know that a universal healthcare system would mean drastic drops in profits. Money money money is what it is all about.

    It is actually a shame the way things have been going, between the US and Canada. I used to travel to the states quite often, and now with the way they treat you at the border, it is not worth it. And I am not alone in that.

  101. Rachel July 19, 2013 at 12:08 pm #

    Hi Warren,

    Yes. You’re right. Americans are victims of the healthcare industry, and it’s for-profit setup. We should, however, be making more noise about changing this, rather than just deciding we can’t do anything about it.

    And I agree, it is a shame about the US border security at the Canadian border. I lived in Buffalo back in the 90’s and used to cross back and forth easily. I hope we get over our nonsense over here in the US.

  102. Amanda Matthews July 19, 2013 at 11:01 pm #

    “I will continue to save money every year, knowing that I can do whatever the hell I want with it, because I do not need to have thousands of dollars set aside for healthcare.”

    Well it’s great that you have that option.

    I wish we had that option in the US. We don’t.

  103. Nicolas July 19, 2013 at 11:30 pm #

    Reading this I’m immediately reminded of the Romanian film classic, “The Death of Mr. Lazarescu.” His encounter with the medical system was similar, if more lethal.

    http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/1158218-death_of_mr_lazarescu/

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  105. Warren July 22, 2013 at 11:09 pm #

    @Amanda

    You talk of having a certain amount of control, and choice. That only works if you are concious and in your hometown.

    I can be in Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, Halifax, or Yellowknife it does not matter. I still do not have to worry about a damn thing. I am covered.

    There is no shopping around. Just get it done. That is the ultmate in control.