ObamaCare and the Reality of Medical Costs

Ah, I thought ObamaCare was going to reduce medical costs. Well, it’s only been a year, and most of the provisions don’t take hold until 2014, but if my recent experience inside the medical gulag is any indication, guard your purses and wallets.

OK. Here’s the backstory.

Last month I managed to end up first in the emergency room and then as an overnight guest at Akron General Medical Center. Diagnosis: vertigo caused by a virus, most likely intestinal. And no question I was sick, flopping on the floor as though I just anchored a month-long fraternity kegger.

In fact, I am still a little nauseous from the experience, particularly as I open the medical bills that somehow find their way now to my snail mailbox every afternoon.

First a disclaimer. The treatment I received as best I can tell was comprehensive and excellent and the staff was professional and yada, yada and yada. And my primary care physician — remember when they were just doctors? — said that anytime someone at my age pulls a stunt like that they have to check for a heart attack or stroke. Wait a minute. At my age? Sigh.

Anyway, here’s the rub. Total cost: nearly $10,000.

The visit to the emergency room and overnight hospital stay topped $7,000. The fees for the doctors — and they assembled like lawyers at the site of a traffic accident — came to another $1,000 or so. Then you add a host of tests and lab work and so on — and pretty soon, just like the federal deficit, you’re talking about real money.

And then get this. I had to make my way via ambulance from the emergency room to the hospital — a distance of about 15 miles. Cost: $783. And they didn’t even offer a double Jameson during the trip. Woot.

Fortunately, I have insurance that will cover most of these costs. A lot of people in this country don’t. I’ve seen some estimates that put the number at 25 million or so. And what happens if you don’t have insurance? Or if you are really sick over an extended period of time and didn’t have enough — or good enough — insurance?

And the point of all this.

Like most, I have no clue whether ObamaCare will reduce escalating health care costs — or not.

But I know that something has to be done — and soon. There is no way that this country — whether you are talking about government, employers, insurers or private individuals — and support the continual escalation in medical costs.

Just sayin’.



3 responses to “ObamaCare and the Reality of Medical Costs

  1. Maybe I’ve been living in Europe for too long, but seeing your bills itemized like this is really shocking, honestly. I am pretty well versed now on both sides of the argument, living part-time in a morbidly inefficient socialist state here in Hungary where the government still manages to cover all health care costs. To see that 7,000 is the cost to stay overnight at a hospital is just insane. Truly.

    For non-emergency conditions, it would probably be cheaper to fly to a European country, like Germany or Hungary or wherever and pay out of pocket for certain treatments. Because even with the plane ticket, the nicest private hospitals and private doctors, I can’t imagine the bill coming near to $10,000.

    • If you don’t have insurance — or enough insurance — I’m really not sure what you would do. Once you get on this medical treadmill there is no way to get off. And the insurers negotiate the final payment with the providers. But if you were on your own, what would you do?

  2. I think Jessica hits the nail on the head… in a “morbidly ineffeciant” system or one were you are “on your own”…you do what people of means have done forever, including today with canadians, english and the Sultan of Brunai…you come to the United States because you are affording yourself the best possible care in the world money can buy. And at least for now it is still the best health care in the world. There’s no free lunch…when one of the prince’s of Saudia Arabia has cancer he comes here for a reason…and thats so he hopes not to die from cancer in Saudia Arabia

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