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.