Joel Riggs teaches Aikido, plays piano, enjoyed California for 22 years ('86 - '08), now enjoys Georgia, and reads voraciously.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

$470 for a Boo-Boo???

In August Rocket either punctured his index finger on some sort of sharp object, or he had a splinter. We could not tell which. Once it got infected and swelled up with a pus-filled abcess, though, we figured it would probably be best to have it lanced and cleaned by a professional. Unfortunately, it was Friday night at 8:30 when we made the decision. And, since we were spending the month in Santa Barbara rather than still being at home in Marin, we had to go to a medical facility outside the Kaiser system.

After a few phone calls, we ended up at the ER of Cottage Hospital, at 9 on a Friday night. Not too crowded, got in to a room by 9:30. But it was midnight before a doctor came into our litter to check on Rocket. Within barely 5 minutes he had sliced open the abcess, lavaged it with sterile solution, bandaged it, and handed us a 10-day supply of antibiotic for Rocket to complete. Thanks for coming, and we will bill your Kaiser insurance, no problem. No co-pay, no credit card, nothing. Kaiser will take care of it.

Well, would that that were the end of the story.

We got our bill a couple weeks later: Cottage charged $470 for their service.

Kaiser covered their share and we are left to pay the balance, but that is not my issue today. Rather: How is it reasonable that 5 minutes of a doctor's time plus one sterile washing kit plus 20 doses of an antibiotic costs over $470? What if Rocket had had a broken arm or needed his leg stitched up? It could have cost thousands.

Medical expenses are a key cause of bankruptcy filing in this country, and the exorbitant costs involved keep the sick or injured from receiving quality care or from seeking preventive care. A system that fails to contain costs and fails to provide care at the same time is not working for anybody, whether they have insurance or not.

Health care is a basic human right. It should in no way be tied to employment, for those who need it are the least likely to hold down a job. And the bulk of the costs must be collectivized. Just wait until the first major epidemic hits when we have no national health system in place. I would like to see capitalism try to win a conflict with a virus.

Now it is 2009, and I trust and hope that the new administration in Washington will attend to this expensive and necessary national imperative.

I'm disgusted by the whole system, and am ready for Universal Health Care/Single Payer.


Blogger Kimberly said...

I couldn't agree with you more! It's about time for heaven's sake!

8:24 PM


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