For those who don’t know, two weeks ago I broke my back. Technically it was a rib-back break; the joint between the bottom floating rib and the thoracic vertebrae was cracked. It was a hairline fracture, nothing was displaced meaning no need for a cast or a brace. The injury caused some complications, the most severe of which was a hemothorax — bleeding into the chest cavity — which required a chest tube and several days in the hospital. Even heavily medicated the pain was extraordinary.
I’m lucky, not just that there’s no permanent injury like paralysis, but the company I work for provides health insurance for its employees. They pay 100% of the premium, I pay zilch, which means my effective wage is really a couple of hundred bucks higher than my monthly take home. Moreover, it’s incredibly good insurance. Time and time again the docs treating me remarked on that. I didn’t have to wait for any approvals for expensive tests like CAT scans, if I needed it, I got it right away and the results were available immediately.
The downside in modern corporate America is in attendance policies. A year ago I was just-a-temp for the same company I work for as a full time regular employee now. Had this accident occured then, when I had no insurance or sicks days, not only would I be in hock to the tune of 50 grand right now — assuming I got the same degree of care which is debatable — I would have been fired while in the hospital. As is I managed to stay just under the threshold of my employer’s point system. No consequences at all for the missed time. Had I been out one more day, or if I miss another day for any reason over the next six months, well I’m not sure exactly what happens but consequences kick in and escalate from there on for any more missed time.
I was in the hospital for almost a week, went to home for a few hours, and then right back to work full-time, nine hours a day. I could have taken a half day or two without getting fired, but that would have pushed me past the threshold where consequences come into play. I chose to avoid that, my decision and all, but it came at one hell of a painful price and whole jug of narcotic painkillers. If there was any other way I’d have taken it
It strikes me through this ordeal that our system of healthcare is fucking insane. It’s completely reasonable for a company to expect its workforce to show up, and the company I work for probably compares favorably to others in that regard. But loosing a job when you’re going to need money and/or health insurance the most serves no one. It means the docs and hospital probably won’t be paid, and it means bankruptcy and misery for the patient.