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Oct 25 2011

The lesson of my medical bills: Why I’m a progressive

Last month I got hurt bad enough to spend several days in the hospital, during which time I got a bunch of expensive treatment and tests. The bills have started rolling in now and one of the larger ones had two numbers on it: the $13,000 and change I would have owed vs the roughly $5,000 the hospital accepted as payment in full. The latter represents what my insurance company had pre-negotiated with medical venders. There’s a lesson here, a big one, because it involves saving individual people thousands of dollars, and saving taxpayers billions and billions. This is a common practice in the insurance industry: insured patients are charged way less money than the uninsured for the same services because insurance companies have negotiated all manner of expenses ahead of time. Obviously if patients who are presently uninsured were to get the lower, negotiated price, instead of full retail they would owe way less. That means they would be able to pay a greater portion of the bill in a timely way, good for them, and any remainder they could not pay would be smaller, good for us. Because taxpayers often end up getting stuck with the unpaid part one way or another.

Under the Affordable Care Act that’s exactly what happens, the lower negotiated prices are extended to millions of currently uninsured and under-insured people. And controlling physician payments is only one of the ways the ACA contains or lowers rising healthcare costs, immediately and dramatically, thus saving We the People truckloads of money and saving tens of thousands of people life, limb, and bankruptcy. How do you suppose conservatives, those dewy-eyed culture-of-life lovers, free-market aficionado business admirers, family-valued deficit hawk, ax wielding budget cutters, feel about private businesses getting paid on time, keeping families solvent and citizens healthier, all while taxpayers are spared hundreds of billions of dollars in deficit spending?

THEY FUCKING HATE IT, OMFG IT’S SO EVIL! IT IS OBAMA CARE!one!1

But when I ask what about the good parts of the … THERE ARE NO GOOD PARTS YOU LIBERAL COMMIE FUCKSTICK!!!

Jumping to a wider context, there are many, many positions, veritable oak planks in the conservative platform, that lead directly and immediately to mutually exclusive positions like healthcare hatred syndrome vs deficit neurosis disorder. Those mutually exclusive positions, taken together, are a big part of Why I’m A Progressive. And yes, I’m thinking about stealing the theme from PZ’s Why I’m an Atheist series and calling my own!

2 comments

  1. 1
    sithrazer

    There are instances where insurance companies are over-paying. My uncle had to get a CPAP machine and was actually quoted less money when he told the sales guy that his insurance didn’t cover it.

    Whether that’s a rare one-off or limited to non-emergency home medical equipment I can’t say for certain.

  2. 2
    michaelswanson

    …controlling physician payments…

    An employed but uninsured friend of mine went to urgent care a few years back and said, “I have the flu and am really dehydrated. I’m guessing I’ll need an IV.” At one point a doctor walked into his room, looked at the nurse’s notes and said, “You have the flu and you’re dehydrated. We’ll get you started on an IV,” and then promptly walked out. His portion of the hundreds in charges? $250. Fuck that guy.

    Same illness happened to me a week later, and I went to the same urgent care, got the same treatment, but I was insured and paid $20. Not even remotely fair.

    Also, I’m progressive because I’m not heartless, stupid and panicky.

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