Remembering the “good old days” of American healthcare

I remember Fran. And if you lived in eastern North Carolina in September 1996, you probably remember her, too. Along with hundreds of thousands of others, I spent the next week or so waiting for electric power, patching roofs and clearing downed trees from everywhere. And my wait was shorter than that of a lot of other people, both in Raleigh and down east. Between fallen trees and dangling power lines, streets were as impassible as if there’d been a major snowfall.

Oh, and one more thing about an awful lot of those trees: they were entwined with poison ivy vines. Many of those vines were so strong they were the only thing keeping 80-foot tall trees from falling on houses. Have I mentioned that I’m severely allergic to poison ivy? If I just look at a picture of a plant I break out in blisters.

After several days of participating in the great chainsaw massacre that followed, I’d cut, lifted and carried more tree limbs and trunks than I’d ever done before [or since]. Naturally, my sweat-filled t-shirt didn’t offer much protection from the vines. [Duh…] So I went to the doc, who said he’d never seen a case as bad or as extensive as mine. He shot me with a massive dose of Prednisone. Yes, I know it turns your bones to glass when you take it for an extended period of time – but this was just a week of declining dosage and it started working the same day.

Then I went to pay my bill and found they wouldn’t accept my health insurance – which I was lucky to have, since I’d been uninsured for a couple of years and this policy was only six months new. I saw the bill and could have been admitted for heart failure. I started talking – and wouldn’t shut up – maybe a side effect of the first shot of Prednisone? Finally the office manager came out and actually paid attention to me. To make the story short, she accepted my insurance plan and I paid a whole lot less.

Which raises the question. Back in those pre-Obamacare days, people who couldn’t afford insurance – as well as those who couldn’t negotiate the system – paid LOTS more than the people who could afford insurance.

Do we really want to go back to “traditional” American healthcare?

And for those of you who want to travel down another memory lane —



4 Comments on “Remembering the “good old days” of American healthcare

  1. I am familiar with the intricacies of the health insurance morass. For those that don’t have health insurance, I recommend negotiating a ‘cash discount’ up front before receiving care. This applies to all sectors of health care. A cash discount can also be negotiated after the fact, but the patient has less leverage. I also advise reviewing the itemized bill for errors, especially hospital bills; improper charges are common. If you have any questions, contact the billing office. Be persistent. I you are already saddled with a large medical bill, and are paying minimal payments, you can often negotiate a ‘one time’ reduction by agreeing to pay a lump sum. You may have to borrow from Peter to pay Paul, but the cost savings can be substantial: the outstanding may be reduced by 50% or more. I could go on, but suffice it to say, those without insurance are usually charged considerable more than those with insurance. Stand up for your rights.

  2. I hear through the grapevine (poison ivy vine?) that poison ivy blisters are notoriously awful & painful: I hope I never experience it first hand.

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