Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The Cost of a Blood-Letting

The interim health insurance we have until hubby gets another job has a very high deductible.  This means that in the case of regular doctor visits and minor situations, we essentially have no insurance at all.  This means that I am getting a small taste of what it is like for folks who have no health insurance. 

My Pravachol prescription ran out a little while ago (that’s a cholesterol med, if you didn’t know).  My doctor wouldn’t call in a renewal for the prescription because he said I’m due for more bloodwork to check my cholesterol.  Well, maybe so.  But I explained to his office folk our situation and asked if he could extend that prescription a little bit longer, just until we’re covered by someone again.  He graciously called in a 90-day extension.
However, those 90 days are now up, and I’m guessing he’s not going to do that trick for me another time.  So, I called the office again, asking if they could tell me what it would cost to get that bloodwork done.  About $55 for the bloodwork – plus a $9 “letting fee”?  (That may not be what they called it, but that’s the image I got in my head . . . a medieval blood-letting.)  Oh, and then the regular $129 office visit.
I really do like my doctor.  He’s kind, gracious, and attentive.  I genuinely enjoy my visits with him.  But 10 minutes to hear him say, “Yep, the stuff still works,” and have him hand me a signed half-sheet of paper to take to the Target pharmacy – I doubt that’s worth $129.  And frankly, knowing my doctor, I bet he would agree with me. 
If you were following our Panama trip adventures, you read that we each got our teeth cleaned in Boquete for $40.  $120 total.  That $120 would have paid for one cleaning by our dentist (whom we love) here in Sioux City without the insurance coverage.
Yes, folks we need health care reform.  But before my liberal friends start their victory dance, I’ll clarify that I still don’t believe Obamacare is the change we all need.  Obamacare strikes me as trying to kill a fly with a Hummer: it may get the job done, but not without causing a lot of other damage that would be a lot worse.  I just heard a statistic that some 70% of American physicians are considering leaving the profession once Obamacare goes into full force.  Now, granted, that number may be skewed high for political purposes, and most of that 70% wouldn't actually end up leaving anyway.  But if even 20% of them leave, we're screwed.
I give the man credit for forcing the country to deal with the issue – Congress had kept it on the back burner for too long – but this was not the way to do it.  How should we do it?  Sorry, I don’t have that answer.  But I pray we will have the sense to recognize a cure that’s worse than the disease.  In the meantime, I guess I’ll be finding out what my cholesterol is like these days without Pravachol.  I've been wanting to know anyway.

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