Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Thank God we don't have socialized medicine

During a soccer game at the beginning of the month, I suffered a freak injury to my leg. I had to be hospitalized and required two surgeries and a 6 day hospital stay. It was really my first major injury. Thank God I was lucky enough to have good health insurance via my employer. Or rather, that my employer offered good health insurance. Instead of a bill of knows how many thousands of dollars, I got off with a 500 dollar co-pay.

Here's what happened to me.

Step 1: I went to the ER and had to fill out paperwork. I had to give them my personal info as well as health insurance details.

Step 2: I was admitted to the hospital (same one that runs the ER) where I had to fill out a little more paperwork regarding personal medical history.

Step 3: I did a follow up exam with the operating doctor. His office is affiliated with the hospital. I had to fill out a crap load of paperwork involving personal info, health insurance details and personal medical history. This despite the fact that the specialist was affiliated with the hospital AND got a referral from my primary care doctor. In an efficient system, either of them could've transferred these details to them.

Step 4: I got my cast refitted at the occupational therapy office of the hospital (which is actually part of the hospital, just in a separate building). I had to call the hospital's administrative office and "register" before this appointment. During this "registration," I had to give my personal info and health insurance details.

Thank God we don't have some kind of (insert menacing music) socialized medicine in this country. Sure, there are 36 countries with better health systems that the US (primarily because of accesibility): most of them offer some kind of universal health coverage to their citizens, ALL of whom spend a lot less money per capita on health care. But they are forced to navigate paperwork and a big, slow bureaucracy.

Instead, we have our messed up, inaccessible system and we're stuck with even more paperwork and SEVERAL big, slow bureaucracies. We may be one of the least healthy populations of any western country, but at least we have our ideological purity. (Except for military veterans, the poor and the eldery, who get free or mostly free health care)

Of course, if I didn't have health insurance, I wouldn't have had to worry about any of this annoying paperwork. I just would've had to sell everything own.

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