Don’t Celebrate Too Soon

After I had given birth, I awaited with dread over the hospital bill. I knew I was close to our $4000 deductible, but I wasn’t certain as to “how close” I was. When the $12000 bill came back, I stared at that number in fear what the final “amount owed” would come to. I was elated when I saw that the bill was only actually $300. I looked at the itemized bill, and came to a conclusion I know will shock you: we are being royally screwed. I was glad I didn’t have an epidural, because I would’ve cried to see that number come back. Among the itemized list, I’ll share a gem or two with you. $60 for one Ambien. One. I was charged separately for a labor room, a delivery room, and a recovery room. Why is that so shocking you ask? Because I was in a LDR room, a joyful convenience of all the rooms in one tiny little package. Add in $20 per 1 pill dosage of Advil, and I couldn’t believe it. Seriously, I almost wish I had a c-section so I could see the total that would come up with, plus the added bonus of sticking it to my insurance company that I only had to pay $300 for something that would probably have cost upwards to $25000-$30000.

So when my son had his surgery, I waited and waited anxiously for the bill. I was expecting a full amount on my deductible, shelling out $4000 for the procedure. Nothing came. Finally upon return from vacation, I noticed a bill from the hospital. After a rough trip back, that included being rear “bumped” by at least a nice person who was just an idiot and leaving my pump at the vacation place, I just knew that I was going to want to cry and curl up into the fetal position in sadness over this. My heart raced, and my head was pounding. I opened the bill, and exclaimed profanities. My husband, who had his eyes closed the entire time opened them with fear. The bill said “$330”. Done and done. We celebrated over our dodged bullet. It wasn’t an itemized bill, but I couldn’t imagine what else that would’ve been for.

In retrospect, that was probably a bill for either his catheter removal, or a removal of his dressings in an emergency, as babies plus medicines equal “blow outs” that end up in dressing and catheters. (The week after the surgery was a very rough one.) I say “in retrospect” because on Friday, I received another letter from the hospital. This one was a tad bit more than $300. This one was $1700. Still, we came in under my anticipated $4000 but it’s still a very large amount that seems impossible to pay. I’ll call and beg for a payment plan, and hope a miracle happens where I either sell $2000 worth of books or win that much in the lottery. Or just sign my life away and chalk it up to bad luck. Isn’t that all life is anyways? A series of unfortunate events and bad luck?

So for people who argue that there’s nothing wrong with healthcare, there is. When you pay $60 for one pill or have to pay separately for each letter in an abbreviation, you know there’s something wrong. I happy accept that my husband pays $600 a month for dental and health insurance so in the end, I can still shell out a total of $4000 a year. Is the problem with the insurance companies or is the problem that hospitals and doctor’s offices are run like business and not something that exists to help people? I’m not sure. The problem is bigger than us, and it’s bigger than whatever healthcare law they put into effect to help us. Or rather “help us”. Whether it be Romneycare or Obamacare or Socialistcare or whatever else it’s called, I want to know who is actually being helped by these programs. Because it certainly isn’t the average middle class person.

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