May 9, 2010

Compelled to Blog about Health Care in US - scary...

Okay. This is a touchy topic. The topic is the health care system. I confess up front that I don't have a clue how to fix our current system, but I am overhearing a conversation at a coffee shop that compels me to blog.

As some of you know, I had a quadruple by-pass surgery in February 2008. That surgery, rehab, angio-plasti, and a bunch of other procedures and doctor's appointments cost about $175,000. That same surgery with the absolute best doctors and in the best hospitals in Brazil costs less than $30,000.

Something is not right with this picture.

Part of the reason why my procedure cost so much is because of what I just over heard.

I am sitting next to some Russians. Mixed in with their Russian, I am overhearing a little bit of their conversation. What they are talking about is how a few of them (not all but three of the seven people sitting next to me) came to the US because they needed medical procedures done and knew that the hospitals here would perform the surgeries while hospitals in Russia would not. I don't know what surgeries they had, but one of the guys had over $150,000 in medical bills, another $130,000, and another $100,000. None of these individuals had insurance. They shared how they've negotiated with the hospitals and they now only owe a tiny fraction of the total bill - and were laughing how they are paying less than $25/month. And a couple of these guys plan on going back to Russia as soon as they earn enough money to pay for their plane ticket.

Now, I know this is an incredibly sensitive topic.

First, I am thankful that we live in a country that will care for people even though they cannot pay for the procedures. I think that is awesome that we can do this. After all, we are talking about human lives. You cannot put a price tag on human lives.

But we cannot keep doing this before we bankrupt the entire medical system. At some point, the numbers reach a point where the dollars are no longer sustainable.

I don't know what to do about this.

Is there anyway to still hold people accountable to their bills even if they were to go to a different country? After all, we live in a global world.

Don't have a clue on what the answer is. But, I am incredibly frustrated by what I just heard, and because I am still paying big time on my medical bills, and these guys are going to walk. That's not right.

I am glad they received the care they needed. I am glad they are alive. But it's not right that they can just walk away without being held responsible.

How do we fix this???

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