On Sunday, I fell victim to the lawn mower. As I was mowing the lawn, I hit a 3"x1"x2" chunk of basalt. My shin was the victim. Seeing my shin bone through the wound convinced me that I needed to pop by the local ER and get a stitch or three.
First off, going to the ER is an option for me because I have a decent job that provides okay health insurance. Maybe using the word "okay" is being charitable, but we have to be thankful that we have any,
Walking into the ER, I went to the desk and explained why I was there. I was asked to fill out the standard forms and present my insurance card. After that, I was seen by a doctor and received x-rays, to see if my tibia was cracked or if any bone chips were in my skin. Then I received a proper scrubbing and three stitches and sent on my merry way.
Sounds great doesn't it. In and out with "the best healthcare in the world", right. Well, sure, until you start to think about the bill. For my little mishap, I have to pay $100 copay for the emergency room visit, 20% of all other "reasonable and customary" fees and 100% of any charges above the dubious "reasonable and customary" amounts.
How much do you think 4 x-rays are going to run me? Or the suture kit? Or the doctor fees? Or any of the other hospital charges? This is easily going to end up costing me $500 and maybe even more. And I have Insurance which I happen to pay around $5000/year to have.
I don't know about you, but I don't just have $500 laying around. No, it's not life threatening. Nor is it going to cause me to miss a house payment. But I may not be able to pay it off by the end of the first month. So that costs me even more to the credit card company.
But what should I have done? Not gone for medical attention? Treat it myself? Then maybe a piece of bone did break off and it gets infected. Or maybe I decide it's ok to go running in a couple of days but I don't know my tibia has a hairline fracture and I break my leg. Then it's a visit to the ER in much more urgent situation and it costs me even more.
This is an isolated event, but how many of you go skateboarding, skiing, roller blading, rock climbing, mow the lawn, do other yard work or simply walk down stairs. Stuff happens to people.
Not only is it bad for me, it's bad for retailers. That $500 isn't coming out of the air. Since I have to spend it on an injury, I am not going to spend that money at a store. It also means I am going to start putting more into savings, so that when something like this happens again (and it will), I'll have the money available to cover my healthcare fees. Meaning that money won't be out stimulating the economy.
All around, my little incident and ones like it cost the economy a great deal of money.
We need a public option and we need it now.