Con #5, Part 2: The Cost to NOT See A Doctor? $200!

December 14, 2012

The Billing Department at the emergency room I went to last week is apparently much faster than the emergency room staff.

On Monday, I wrote about my emergency room experience, in which I waited four-and-a-half hours before leaving without seeing a doctor.  Six days after my visit, I received the bill -- $200!

Note that the $200 is a copayment.  It is not the actual bill for my services.  Being self-employed, we pay $10,800 a year for coverage.  For that price, we have significant copays and a $2,000 a year deductible.

The copay was high, but the opportunity cost for me to go to the emergency room was even higher, as it took away more than half of a work day.  Time is valuable for those of us who are self-employed.

A physician who read my blog agreed with what I wrote, but told me that emergency rooms are also crowded with people seeking narcotics.  When they seek prescriptions from physicians and are turned down, they use the emergency room as their connection.

The healthcare system is a mess, but it’s only going to get messier with Obamacare coming.  One criticism of Obamacare is that members of Congress voted in the new legislation, which ran to more than 2,000 pages, without reading it, never mind understanding its implications.  Even more frightening is that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has already produced more than 13,000 pages of new regulations – and HHS is not done yet.

No one has ever been cured by red tape.


Canadian perspective

First of all I hope you are OK and that there were no critical ramifications to your problem.
As a Canadian I don't understand though why so many Americans prefer to pay a large amount of money out of pocket for health care rather than a smaller amount (simply because there is only one insurer) through their taxes and not deal with this kind of headache. Of course our system is broken too (I wonder if there are any in the world that aren't) for different reasons, especially due to long wait times to see specialists. (One month for a biopsy-positive woman with breast cancer to wait for treatment?) I'm not going to claim it's the ideal health care system, and because I work within it I know all its faults. And of course our emergency rooms are also overcrowded mostly with people with runny noses or flus. I don't really know much about obamacare to have an opinion about it, but I really feel a civilized society requires universal health care, just as it requires universal education.

Canadian perspective

I agree that everyone needs and should have access to quality healthcare.

The closer we can bring doctors to patients, the better our healthcare will be.  Unfortunately, federal regulations and the lack of tort reform are ruining our healthcare system.

Given the federal regulations and the cost of medical malpractice insurance, many doctors are leaving the field and fewer people are going through the rigorous training needed to become a doctor.

Too often, doctors make medical decision to avoid being sued, rather than doing what's right for the patient.  It's not their fault -- our system has forced that type of action.

Thanks to our healthcare system, people are living longer, but with a very low quality of life.  We can look forward to spending our final years in a nursing home, drugged up and waiting to die, while we spend down all of our assets.  Where's the dignity in that?

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