Today I received a bill for services rendered. $2,350.00 for an emergency room visit for my young dauther.
What is $2,350?
* A new 46" flat screen HD LCD television that will last for 10 years+
* A new computer system with all of the latest Multi-Media accessories
* That family trip to the Dominican Republic that I put off because we had a few unscheduled mini-trips to pop up that were unplanned
Indeed $2,350 for one visit in the course of 5 hours sure seems a bit out of alignment.
This was necessary because my daughter was being treated for an bacterial infection that was caught from close proximity to another child. The reaction to the penicillin caused an abrupt reaction in her body. We actually learned that there are multiple types of penicillin on the market. This explains why she didn't have such an adverse reaction to previous treatments.
As a result of several days of high fever and skin rashes a return trip to the family doctor turned into a redirection to a local children's hospital for further testing and treatment.
Yes I have health care insurance as provided through my job. After a job change and several policy changes over the years my wife and I are paying more out of pocket expenses and, of course, the underlying health care costs are rising as well.
For me - my concerns are not exactly like those in the popular public debate. I have insurance. That $2,350 invoice was actually a statement for our records. An insurance claim will be filed and we will get a bill regarding how much of that will come out of my pocket. I also have a "Health Care Savings Account" which is deducted out of my pay check to cover such out of pocket expenses. My problem is not the same problem of many Americans who not only don't have health care but also lack the financial resources to cover them when that statement turns into an invoice.
Indeed my family has "choice". My wife drove past several hospitals and one other children's hospital that comes to mind so she could go to the one that her friend advised her as being the best in town due to its location and resources. My daughter got a complete check up and is now fully healed from this temporary scare that she faced with regard to the high temperature, the skin situation and related swelling.
Seeing the underlying costs of the entire routine it is clear that there is a problem with our health care system. $1,300 in tests; $850 just for the fact that we entered the hospital through the intake portal that they call "the Emergency Room". Please give me a break.
Don't get me wrong though - my position has not changed one bit regarding the political conflict at hand. I do not believe that a FIX is had by taking my one expensive invoice and 'throwing it in the air' and having SOCIETY to pay for that which I can't afford. Over time this "ponzi scheme" will eventually run up against the laws of economics and physics.
Indeed if I were forced to pay this $2,350 out of pocket and had to do it on a reoccurring basis - just as if I had to pay my own state and federal and FICA taxes by writing a check rather than having someone else to deduct it all for me - I would be more aware but also more pissed at the entire process.
I have about $490 per month drawn out of my salary every month for health care for my family. This translates into nearly $6,000 annually. Since we don't have such an emergency each year and since I am in a broader risk pool with others who don't exhaust this same amount - there is enough money going into the pot to cover the expenses of these hospital entities.
It seems to me that the problem is on the supply side. Absent the ceiling upon which the medical industry realizes that the well has been tapped dry and no longer able to sustain the current rate of increases because the rate of REPLENISHMENT has been dwarfed by the rate of EXTRACTION the system will be forced to change lest they go out of business. Indeed this might create a system of medical facilities that have a differing set of amenities based on the salient income and financial resources of the population it serves. The key question is - Are we driving toward ECONOMIC EQUALITY to a certain minimum threshold of care that should be provided to American citizens.....not because it is their RIGHT but because, more accurately, it is a SOCIETAL GOOD to attempt to maximize health care coverage for the population while respecting the economic facts behind all of our decisions.
I would not want any parent in America to have to lose a child due to some bacterial infection that is easily diagnosed today but was deadly in the past. (I would prefer to be general so this is why I am not specifically detailing which infection it was). The high costs of the specific medial facility that we visited was not incumbent upon the core medical treatment that was received. Clearly the new building, the latest computers and the highly paid medical staff were all represented in the invoice that I received.
The fundamental challenge that we face as a community, however, is Are we attempting to provide UNIVERSAL health care access for all or EQUAL health care for all - where inevitably those who can afford to purchase the care that they need will be economically suppressed from purchasing this "special good' with his own money that he control or over taxed to pay for others' care as a means of expressing this EQUALITY.
This remains as the fundamental question.