Last year my wife began to feel very lethargic, to the point where she had to take frequent naps throughout the day. We checked her blood pressure and found it was a little lower than normal, but her pulse was high. She would run out of breath just going up a flight of stairs. We had no idea what was going on.
I finally convinced her to let me take her to the emergency room. Her red blood cell count was about half what it should be; this accounted for the fatigue, the low blood pressure, and the elevated heart rate. What wasn’t so obvious was the root cause, and her case was unusual enough that the doctors were grateful for the challenge. They finally asked if she’d experienced abnormal bleeding during her periods, and indeed she had for several months. It had just never occurred to us that the increased bleeding was enough that her body could not produce enough new blood to compensate, and that the volume of blood in her body had been steadily dropping for some time. She received a transfusion that very night, stayed in the hospital until they could determine that she was okay to go home, and we hoped the matter was done and over with.
It wasn’t. This year her blood count dropped more quickly, at one point losing almost ten percent of her blood volume in two days. We went to the emergency room and she received another transfusion, received a whole battery of diagnostic tests, and on the following day discussed options with the gynecologist. The options were either a hysterectomy (removal of the uterus) or an intrauterine ablation (an outpatient procedure that effectively cauterizes some areas of the uterus). The soonest we could have the operation was nearly three weeks later.
The following Saturday she was in the emergency room again, and received another transfusion. The next Saturday and the Monday after that she also spent in the emergency room – but did not need a transfusion. Finally on the following Wednesday she received the ablation, and she is now recovering at home.
Could I have afforded four visits to the emergency room, and the three overnight stays that followed? Could I have afforded the surgery? Could I have afforded the dozen or so medications she’d been prescribed during the whole of the ordeal? Would I then have been able to continue to pay the mortgage on our home – a house where we care for our medically-fragile foster children – would we have been able to keep those children?
One might say that a good HMO policy would have covered most of the costs…but are we really sure about that? The HMO industry’s proclivity for denying health care is well known, and even if they did pay for the procedure, would they have paid for all of the four emergency room visits? Or would the deductible have bankrupted us? What’s more, after the transfusion last year, would the HMO have continued to insure my wife’s health? Or would they have dropped her? And considering what we had to do over the previous month, would they drop her now?
That’s the problem with the business model for-profit HMO’s – the business model is great for making money, but often tragic for their customers because the HMO’s make MORE money by NOT providing the health care their customers need. Just last month, the news story broke that health care costs are involved in sixty percent of ALL bankruptcies. I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that if I hadn’t been covered by socialized health care, we probably would have been included in that statistic.
The socialized health care which saved my wife and my finances is called TriCare. It’s given to military retirees, their spouses, and their children up to age 21 for $460/year. Yes, our health care is subsidized by taxes, but here’s the important thing to remember: it costs LESS taxpayer money to cover someone’s health care than the taxpayer money need to absorb the costs of the bankruptcy of an ENTIRE household. That’s right! The government SAVED taxpayer money by covering our health care costs. Why? Because if my wife weren’t covered and we went bankrupt, our house would be foreclosed and we would have likely had to give up our foster children, who would have then been sent to a hospital and kept there at taxpayer expense until another willing-and-able-and-qualified-and-licensed family could be found to take them, because we’re among the few in the state who CAN care for such children.
We would not eligible for unemployment benefits, so then we would be stuck with going to taxpayer-subsidized Section Eight housing…and the taxes we’re paying to the government every year – whether in payroll taxes or sales taxes – would plummet. And then we would be living below the poverty line once more, with all the negative effects that has on us as a family, particularly our natural children.
Does it seem like I’m blowing things out of proportion? Perhaps. But this story would sound all too familiar to sixty percent of those American households who declared bankruptcy last year…because they lived it.
YES, the government SAVED money by paying for our health care, whereas HMOs save money by DENYING health care, and every family that is bankrupted by the HMO’s efforts to save money costs the taxpayers untold thousands of dollars.
Something to think about, people.