Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Emergency Room Thoughts

On the night of the scorpion's sting MW did suggest that we might mosey over to the ER in case my throat constriction gets to be serious. Being cocky, I suggested, “If I’m going to die of this reaction to the scorp’s sting, I may as well die at home in relative comfort as opposed to sitting in the hospital awaiting attention."

Some years ago I took MW to an emergency room with symptoms of something that we thought required immediate attention. Being in the middle of the night, it seemed appropriate. Once there, the first thing I had to figure out was where to park my car so that it is not towed away. I suppose, if we had just walked in without a car that part would have been easier.

Once in, I looked for a place for MW to sit. I found one on the floor against a wall. Standing behind a line of customers for a while I was finally allowed to talk with a bouncer. Well, maybe she was not going to bounce me, but she was between me and the medics for good. I had to produce some identification, and proof of insurance. Then I was allowed to explain the nature of the emergency. She pointed to the full waiting room, and said, “We’ll call you in turn.”

After a while one of the customers may have gone to find a bathroom, so MW got a chance to sit in a hard backed chair. I continued standing. A young man was sitting next to me. His leg was bleeding onto the floor through some makeshift bandages. Teenagers were coughing up lungs, older folks appeared to be in coma, and snot-nosed little beggars were spreading their disease without supervision. I thought, Maybe next time I should call an ambulance. Their patients may get priority. I found out later that arriving in an ambulance makes no difference with respect to the waiting queue. The only thing it assures is a relatively comfortable wait as opposed to sharing disease with the awaiting masses. About three hours into the wait MW was taken to one of the triage rooms.

I don’t have the federal law in my sight, so I am unsure of the actual statute that dictates private hospitals to provide emergency care to anyone, regardless of ability to pay. The fact is, however, that people of limited means use the hospital emergency rooms for routine medical needs: when one of the twelve little rug rats has diarrhea, they drag the entire family to the ER and spread it around.

We live in a border state, so the situation is as I described. I did not actually count, but it appeared that about seventy percent of the customers in the ER were from south of the border. What happens is that the hospital, a privately financed institution to make money for their investors, must treat anybody who stumbles over their threshold. In spite of that, I was practically frisked to make sure that I could pay for any care that my wife may receive. The reason for that is, somebody has to pay for the free medical care for the so-called indigent, read that as “illegal alien”. The hospital is in business to make money. Without payments, they quickly go out of business. The government does not pay for this free medical care for the indigent, whereas, somebody must. That is were you and I come in. That is why insurance premiums are high or unaffordable to some.

With the entire medical care overhaul that is being kicked around in the US Congress, those idiots are just working on the symptoms. They can twist their rules any way, but it is not going to provide better medical care for less money, which is what they are trying to shove down the taxpayers' throat. Don’t get me started!

Fixing the problem, as opposed to the symptoms, would be as follows:
  • Stopping any benefits to illegal aliens,
  • Limiting the ridiculous amounts awarded to trial lawyers supposedly in behalf of litigants, and
  • Not requiering private health care providers to work without compensation.
These three actual solutions would allow insurance companies to make premiums affordable to most, do away with the enormous premiums health providers pay for malpractice insurance, and leave some taxpayer money for the true legal indigent when they need medical care.


All For Her said...

I have an intestinal disease and after working for a company for 12 years, insured the whole time, I had my insurance taken away. Granted, in 12 years they had spent over half a million on my treatment, but I payed my premiums and had not reached my max yet.
Then they tried to deny me COBRA. I had to get a lawyer just to get that. And even COBRA is designed to make it more likely that you fail to hold up your obligations and therefore they can stop providing insurance sooner.
Now I'm on my wife's insurance plan and I'm insured by one of the largest health insurance companies in the nation.
You'd think that was a good thing, but it's not. The laws are designed to keep Dr.'s from collective bargaining with the insurance companies, and when a company is so large it can dictate it's payment rate to the Dr it creates a bad situation. Big company = more insured patients in the area. If the Doc wants those patients (customers) he needs to accept that insurance. All the power is in the hands of the insurance company. They make much smaller payouts than smaller companies.
Because of this I have now lost my gastroenterologist and recently my primary care Doc. They will no longer be slaves to this insurance company making payouts that are far below acceptable rates.
As I said, the law forbids Dr.'s from joining together to negotiate a rate with the insurance company so it leaves them two choices: accept less money for your services than you think you are worth or not provide care to people insured by that company.

Give me a public option, make it illegal to deny coverage, or break up the largest insurance providers into smaller, competitive companies. Any of these things would help the situation.

Susan's Pet said...

My friend, I truly sympathise with you. I don't want this post to turn into a political debate, yet I would like to address several issues that you have raised. If you give me an email address, I would be happy to respond. I promise to remain civil under all conditions.

doll said...

It sounds as though it doesn't matter whether you have a wholly public system, a mixed public/private or a fully private system Hospitals around the globe must all work in the same fundamental flawed way. I remember going to a hospital with my boyfriend when we were 17. It was 10pm and he had broken his arm. No-one saw him until 2am. It was then that I decided that hospitals are no go zones and I approach them with a forked stick

Dan said...

If you think the insurance company is bad wait until the Government takes over health care. You'll be lucky if you can even get an appointment to see a doctor, that is if there are any still practicing.

The insurance companies are paying hospitals $15.00 for a box of kleenex & $30.00 for aspirin so it's no wonder rates are so high. Look at what all those tests cost. Thousands of dollars for tests the Government will not perform.