Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Fact (1) and Fiction(2)

1. I Should Have Gone to Vegas


The Sarasota Memorial Physician Group SMPG Hospitalist/Geriatrics has been dunning me for two years for $168 for performing the above whatever it was. Apparently, that particular charge got eaten by the dog in the paperwork purgatory that characterizes our health care system. It is currently “undergoing review” and will likely go on to “appeal.”
A nice woman in claims guided me through this and a thick list of other charges resulting from my overnight at Sarasota Memorial Hospital after experiencing chest pain in a movie theater. No angiogram was performed and tests were limited to x-ray, EKG and blood work. The bills, I was told, totaled between four and five grand--enough to rent the best hotel suite in Vegas with complimentary champagne and blond. Happily, my discomfort was not as serious as it felt. Also on the bright side was a heart pill recommended to me by one of the Florida docs that has all but eliminated my bouts of chest pain since then. But still, five grand!
Specialite Cardiaque
Those two words, handwritten on a bill, were sufficient to cover the totality of the room charge, meals, medications, angiogram, x-ray and other tests performed on me several years earlier at the Hopital Cochin in Paris. On leaving the hospital after a 24 hour stay also occasioned by chest pain, the cashier stamped it paid and returned it to me along with my credit card chit. In Yankee dollars, the charge was $1,323. Had I been a citizen of France, my taxes would have paid for that hospital stay just as our taxes in America pay to protect Iceland from an attack by Persian missiles.
I related the French experience in an earlier blog and even wrote a contemporary op-ed about it in the Hartford Courant headlined, “Getting Sick in a Healthy Country." I revisit it because I keep hearing morons moan that we can’t afford a government health plan. They’re oblivious to the fact that government plans, including our own Medicare/Medicaid, are far simpler, more efficient and cheaper than our idiotically complex corporate pay-or-die system. Such people don’t deserve health care. They deserve to be locked in a room with nothing but a manual of medical insurance codes to keep them company.

2. A Parable
Mom, I’m out of my asthma medicine.
Sorry, honey, but we can't afford to pay for more?
Dad’s got money.
Not for that. He’s got to pay for that expensive new hunting rifle and his trip to the Sierras.
Why does he keep going out there?
To protect us from the mountain lions, honey.
But there are no mountain lions in Cleveland.
Yes, honey, but dad says that if we don’t stop them in California they could come to Ohio and bite us. Remember how one bit dad?
But that was in California, and he was trying to take a cub from the lion’s den.
Yes, but don’t you remember that an alley cat bit little Jimmy down the block and he died from an infection?
But that was a Cleveland tabby cat, not a California mountain lion.
Dad says they’re all the same family. We can’t trust any of them, even the baby kittens.
Does dad have to to rent a Porsche SUV and stay in that super-expensive hunting lodge?
Of course, honey, you wouldn’t want him to skimp on our protection.
Did he have to buy that $10,000 rifle with all the fancy scroll work and engraving on it?
Yes, honey, that’s to produce shock and awe among the mountain lions and make them easier to hunt.
Hack. Hack. Mom, I think I’m having an asthma attack.
Just say a prayer and breathe as best as you can, honey.