I used to be against it but after five years of dealing with BC/BS of Michigan, I now know what Evil is
I really was against socialized medicine.
In my first job out of college, I worked for a health insurance company. This was back in the days when employers would actually offer benefits to employees instead of trying to sell them the BS that true freedom was to be found in driving other people around, even when the cost of operating your car plus the self-employment taxes is more than the money you make.
In those days, employers paid all the premium or most of it. We had a deductible and then we paid 20% and we had a pretty decent idea of what it would cost us to go to the doctor or the ER.
Socialized medicine, as we understood it back then, meant rationing.
As if certain people, for lack of money, do not get the care they need in this country.
As if care were not rationed here.
A few years ago, as I was riding to work, I fell off my bike. I found the only spot of hard in an acre of grass – my helmeted head hit a manhole cover. Even so, I managed to lead with my (prescription) sunglasses, which broke and did not stop my eye ridge from hitting the iron.
A kind stranger drove me to an urgent care, where Mr T met me.
Urgent care would not treat me.
We went to my doctor’s office.
My doctor would not treat me.
We surrendered and went to the ER, where I waited a few hours to be treated. That is not unreasonable – I was not about to die – but I later realized that the delay was not because they were triaging me but because they couldn’t reach my insurance company to see if a CT scan would be covered.
While we were waiting, I was asked a series of questions including did I feel safe in my house.
Although I had lost consciousness in the fall and was not feeling too great, I did roll my eyes and answer, “If my husband was beating me, do you think I would tell you while he’s sitting next to me?”
(YES I KNOW IT’S A GOOD IDEA FOR MEDICAL PEOPLE TO ASK THESE QUESTIONS. I HAD JUST HAD A HEAD INJURY, OK? AND I THOUGHT I WAS BEING FUNNY.)
I kept asking them how much a CT scan would cost – we had a $2,500 deductible and had not met a penny of it.
They would not tell me.
The whole point of high-deductible plans is that people will make more rational medical decisions if they are paying for part of those decisions. In the old days, with low deductibles and co-pays, people would go to the doctor – or, more problematically – to the ER – for anything. So yeah – having a financial skin in the game can help reduce ER trips for diaper rash and broken toes.
But how do I make a rational decision about my medical care if I can’t get a price?
I can’t get my doctor’s office – and we really like our doctor – to tell us what an office visit costs. I have emailed the hospital system he works for to ask and they will not give me an answer.
Ten days ago, Mr T went to the library to pick up some books for me. It was about 4:30. Our library is in our city hall. That day, they were doing a covid vaccine clinic at city hall. Mr T and I were not eligible yet.
But when Mr T walked into city hall, a man standing in the hall asked if Mr T wanted the vax. They had two doses left over, he explained.
YES I SAID YES! Mr T answered.
Then he called me, only I didn’t hear the phone because I was downstairs working out with the music loud and my phone was upstairs.
Mr T called and called and then he texted.
When I went upstairs ten minutes later, I saw his calls and texts and I tried to call him back but he did not answer so I texted YES I SAID YES.
And I read the rest of his messages, which included the news that he had accidentally taken both sets of car keys, which usually would not be a problem as the library is only half a mile from our house and I always walk anyhow.
But now I had to run because I WANTED THAT SHOT.
And I have not been running but I RAN AND I RAN AND I ARRIVED JUST AS ANOTHER PERSON WAS ASKING FOR THE LAST DOSE AND THE CLERK SAID NO MR T’S WIFE IS COMING
And there I was.
And I gasped, “Oh no! I forgot my insurance card!”
And they said, “Nah it’s free don’t worry.”
(I know it’s not free free, OK? I totally get that. But I also pay and have paid a lot of taxes in my life and dang if my tax money can’t pay for a vaccine that will help keep millions of people from dying, then what’s the damn point?)
I didn’t even have to show an ID. I just told them I am who I say I am.
They wrote it down.
They gave me a shot.
Fifteen minutes later, Mr T and I walked out of there.
A few years ago, my sister and I were in Italy at a cooking school. She got sick or injured – I don’t even remember.
She went to the – ER? urgent care? – and they saw her.
She tried to give them her US insurance information and they brushed her off. Charged her like $11 or something.
I saw a specialist whose office was in the basement of the hospital. So – specialist visit for $45 copay, right?
Not according to BC/BS of Michigan.
No, according to them, that’s a hospital visit because – you know – it’s in a hospital. Which means hospital deductibles apply – $700, for what it’s worth.
A visit that I thought would cost $45 cost me hundreds of dollars.
When we had United Healthcare, I would visit my neurologist in that same building.
Cost me a $30 co-pay and not a penny more.
BC/BS of Michigan, I hate you so much.
When Mr T and I had our colonoscopies, BC/BS kept billing us $800 each we weren’t supposed to have to pay anything at all.
It took eight months of fighting to get it straightened out.
In the ER with my head injury.
I don’t know how much a CT scan will cost.
I don’t feel like giving a blank check to the hospital.
My sister the nurse practitioner says yeah, I should get the CT scan.
“Natasha Richardson,” she says. “That’s all I’m going to say to you. Natasha Richardson.”
So I get the scan and fortunately everything was fine but three weeks later, we got a bill for $4,800 because turns out they do know what to charge for a CT scan after all.
During our 2020 unemployment, we paid $1,200 a month for health insurance.
And we still didn’t know what actually getting sick would cost.
If covid vaccine = socialized medicine
and “Surprise! bill of $4,800” equals Our Great System in the US
Give me socialized medicine. Give it to me now.
I don’t care if my taxes go up. I just want to know what it’s going to cost me to get sick so I can plan for it.
Increase my taxes so I can walk into a vaccine clinic and walk out after doing nothing more than giving my name.
If this be socialized medicine, I am happy to have it.