Why Private Health Insurance In America Sucks

June 18, 2009 at 9:21 am | Posted in American politics | 4 Comments

Short: When you really need them, they’ll not be there for you.



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  1. Dan, I believe that we desperately need to reform our healthcare system. I guess the crux of the debate is how best to reform the healthcare system in America.

    I am concerned that Congress is going to ramrod a bill down our throats without any real debate on the issue. I am hopeful that Democrats and Republicans can get together and have meaningful debate, with input from the American people, to craft good legislation that fixes a lot of the current issues with healthcare in America.

    Watching the exchange in the video is downright scary. Our healthcare insurance providers are trying to watch the bottom-line, but too often to the detriment of those they insure.

    I would love to have the Bloggernacle put together a podcast where we can discuss and debate healthcare reform. That would be enlightening and perhaps even entertaining.

  2. Brian,

    Indeed, the “how” is the question. For a possible answer to that, another question must be asked. Where do we see best examples of health insurance working, whether through state run programs or a mix or completely private. And can those examples fit with the variables found in nation-states like the United States?

    The real pernicious nastiness that you find from such things as what these health insurance companies do is that those people who they cancelled their insurance, it’s not like those people are not going to no longer require medical assistance. Just because the insurance is cancelled doesn’t mean you stop seeing a doctor about your cancer. You still HAVE to see the doctor. And if you are unable to pay, who foots your bill ANYWAYS? The taxpayer.

    Back in 2001, I was working as a tour bus driver in Alaska and had no health insurance. I was in that black hole, a single male, 26 year old out of college. There was nothing that could help me, no government program, and nothing from my employer. If I wanted health insurance, I would have had to pay out of my own pocket a couple hundred dollars a month. Who wants to do that?!?!?!

    Well, I had a kidney stone. Yeah, it sucked. I had to go to the emergency room four or five times. Each one cost me $500 or so. The hospital was kind enough to allow me to pay in installments (I think I managed $200 total in payment overall—you’ll see the reason in a moment). The doctors and I were hoping the stone would pass through my system and all would be well. Well, after the last visit, a particularly painful one, the doctors recommended that I try to get it out. They discussed with me an “inexpensive” option where a basket would be inserted in me (yes, down there) and they would attempt to pull the stone out. This would cost $8000. The doctor told me there was a 1 in 7 chance the procedure would not work. So they put me to sleep, and I awoke with a terrible dull pain down there. The procedure did NOT work, and I had a catheter on, one of the most painful things a man could ever have—do all in your power, Brian, to never ever ever have one. Not only did the procedure not work, but the basket was stuck! So now I had to go to another hospital. I was working in Juneau, and I had to fly to Anchorage, yes, with a catheter and in much pain. $800 for the flight. ($2000 for emergency room visits, $8000 for the failed procedure, and $800 for the round trip flight so far). At the hospital in Anchorage, I had to stay the night (total hospital costs $2000) and the next morning the nurse tells me the procedure (lithotripsy) was going to cost $9000! I had no freaking choice, I had a catheter up my penis! The procedure went well, and I was finally free of the damn stone.

    So how much did all that cost? ($2000 + $8000 + $800 + $2000 + $9000 = $21,800). Just like that, $21,800. All for a stupid calcium stone. I mean, if it was diamond, I’d think I made something out of that deal!

    The story continues, I happened to have gotten fired from my job (I had three speeding tickets on my car, which was frowned upon by the bus company), I drove across Canada (it happened to be the week of 9/11), and the week after 9/11, when staying with my mom in Rhode Island, trying to figure out how to pay for all this, I got in a car accident that was my fault, with no car insurance, and an expired plate!

    Could I have had a more terrible month?

    So I did what any sensible person would do. I filed for bankruptcy. The hospital did not get paid. The insurance of the guy who was in the accident did not get paid. And I had it on my record for the next seven years.

  3. In a word- OUCH!!!

    To quote Bill Clinton, “I feel your pain.” 🙂

  4. my displeasure with the current way we insure Americans is borne from personal pain…

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