With gas prices fluctuating up and down these days, money, or at least the cost of things, has been weighing heavily on everybody's minds. (Or maybe it's just poor law students???) =) However, while I was busy being concerned about how the increasing price of gas and foods was affecting my carefully planned budget, another hideous price caught my attention: the price of medical care. May I just say, "Eeeeeeek!"
Now, if you're like I was up until a couple months ago, you probably are blessed enough to be covered by insurance. If you've been that way for some time, then you might not even actually know how much the fees are at your doctor's office. I know that I seldom paid attention to the cost of office visits; I only had to pay a $20 co-pay, so I really didn't give it two thoughts. However, I recently was moving out of state, so I wasn't working and wasn't covered by insurance. Fortunately/Unfortunately, God saw fit to make that window of opportunity the time for Justin and I to conceive our first child, and then, sadly, also lose that child through miscarriage. We ended up in the Emergency Room because sometimes cost can't be an object when health is on the line. Yikes! We only had an Ultrasound and bloodwork done, never actually saw a doctor (he just looked at my chart) and still was hit with a bill from the doctor for $335.00 and an additional one from the hospital for $1500.00. Ouch!
Now, at the time I just shrugged this off as the price to pay for emergency care. The next day, I tried to make the prescribed follow-up visit with a doctor. The doctor wanted $300.00 for me to walk in the door, and any tests were additional. Also, he refused to take me until I could show proof of insurance. What?!? I have since found that this is the "norm" in the area in which I live. I am horrified to think about all of the people who don't have insurance. What do they do? I know what I ended up doing to ensure that I got good care: I flew home to South Dakota. The cost of my ticket home $335.00 and the cost of a visit to an OB/GYN $164.00 still did not total what they wanted here even if they would have agreed to see me! (and I got to see my family) Praise God for simple SD!!!
The question that this begs, in my mind, is what is healthcare heading towards? Are we going to end up in a situation where, without insurance, you cannot be seen except by an institution that participates in a sliding scale, such as Planned Parenthood/State run clinics? Are we looking towards a situation where only the insured or very rich can get "the best" medical care? Are we forcing the poor to want a national healthcare system, such as in Canada? It seems as if doctors are forcing the people's hand in one undesirable direction, or another. We need to ask these doctors why they became doctors. Was it to help people? Or only to make money?
I'm thankfully counting the days until I will be insured again: 4 days to go. But, it made me so very conscious of what a decent little chunk of America has to go through every day. The farmers in SD are very lucky that they still can recieve great medical care, even if they're not insured; other parts of the country aren't so lucky. What are we going to do about it?