Sunday, November 6, 2011

Ahhhh, socialized medicine...

Weren't at Children's long enough to need his bracelet on.
After our first visit to the emergency room at the hospital with Sprout on Friday, I've been thinking a lot about how that experience would be different if we were in the US. It's hard to find an estimate of what it would have cost us in a privatized system like theirs, but I think it's safe to estimate that the bill would have been hundreds of dollars, even for a relatively simple visit like ours.

Sprout had woken up about an hour after we put him to bed & was having more trouble breathing, so we booked a Modo car & drove to Children's Hospital. We got there around 11:45pm, checked in about fifteen minutes later & were called in within fifteen minutes. The doctor asked us lots of questions, listened to Sprout's breathing & quickly diagnosed croup, which was not a surprise. He explained what it was & a few ways to help Sprout breathe easier as he recovers from it. The doctor ordered a small dose of oral steroids & a nurse squirted it into Sprout's mouth. After we were satisfied that he'd swallowed it we were sent home with an info sheet on croup. We arrived home in our Modo van just an hour after we left the house.

The steroids kicked in within about an hour & Sprout was back in bed by 1:30am. The next morning his breathing was much improved. Now all we have to worry about is helping him get well,  not how much the bill is going to be.

According to a quick Google search, the average emergency room visit comes to somewhere around $1200 in the US. It can vary a huge amount depending on the level of care you require. I read a NYTimes article--Demystifying, & Maybe Decreasing, the Emergency Room Bill--which made me even more glad to be living north of the 49th Parallel. The writer describes a simple ER visit necessitated by her son splitting open his chin on the floor. The full bill was about $5400, which was negotiated down & some of it was paid by their health insurance. In the end, they paid nearly $1600 for those 14 stitches on their son's chin. 

$1600!?! We complain about having to pay MSP premiums in BC, but our annual cost isn't that much. I'm also happy that the amount I pay doesn't depend on my bargaining skills, as it seems to in the US. There your bill is essentially like the sticker price on a car: you need to haggle it down. The last piece of advice the article offers is to deal with the billing department promptly so they don't send your unpaid bill to a collections agency, impairing your credit. Ugh. It's easy to see why there are so many people in the US whose lives are essentially ruined by one health problem.  

I wonder when America will join the rest of the 'civilized' world & ditch their expensive for-profit system?

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thanks for commenting! (I've had to enable comment moderation on older posts to thwart spammers, so your post may not appear right away.)


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...