For those of you who are new here, on 14 January I fell on the ice while carrying my dog and managed to land in such a way that I dislocated my shoulder, shattered my glenoid in multiple places, wrecked my labrum, detached my bicep, and basically decimated my shoulder. I had surgery close to six weeks ago to have everything rebuilt and pins inserted, my labrum rebuilt, and all the damaged material scoped out of the joint, and now that my brace is scheduled to come off and I am starting to really feel better, it is time for the bills to come in. And mind you, I am not complaining, just highlighting how expensive everything is. I’ve added up the cost of the emergency room visit (including x-rays, mri, pain meds, and the elaborate brace), the outpatient visit to the specialist to schedule surgery, the actual surgery and the overnight hospital stay, and the rehab I have attended already (I have a bunch more to go to), and the total dollar value on a bionic shoulder in West Virginia is:
To be honest, I thought it would be much, much more, so even though I was charged $900 bucks “room and board” for my overnight stay (I’ve never stayed in a hotel that cost more than 175-200 bucks, and then only because of a conference), I still think it is very reasonable. And because I have great insurance with reasonable deductibles, if I add up the parts of the bill I am responsible for, all the co-pays I’ve paid, all the drugs and other stuff, as well as the things I could never have predicted but had to have any way (maid service, about 70 bags of ice over a 2 week period, etc.), I’m only personally out a couple of thousand dollars. And considering the magnitude of the injury, I think that is very, very reasonable.
There are a couple of things to keep in mind. The $28k price tag is because I have insurance. If I did not, there is no doubt in my mind that the total bill would be closer to 100k. As we know, those without insurance are basically robbed by hospitals and charged double, triple, and even quadruple what this with insurance are charged.
Second, if I did not have insurance, there is a solid chance I probably would not have 100k lying around to replace my shoulder. So I could probably get my surgery done, and then would choose between being in debt my entire life or declaring bankruptcy. But would I get the same care I got? I very seriously doubt it. I saw the best surgeon in my area, a member of the American College of Surgeons and a specialist on shoulder injuries. I got fantastic overnight pain management and monitoring of my condition at the hospital. I am getting excellent therapy at a premiere rehab place. Would all that be true if I were uninsured and broke?
Third, I don’t know how much of that $28k is inflated to help allay the hospital costs incurred when they have to treat uninsured. Every single one of us pays for the uninsured already, which is a portion of the current HCR debate which seems to be getting very little play.
Finally, I wouldn’t wish what I went through on anyone. I’m not a “tough guy” brawler type, but I have a pretty decent pain threshold with al ot of experience with pain- I’ve dislocated my other shoulder a number of times, had multiple concussions, broken every finger and both big toes, broken my clavicle, I’ve been through two windshields, fallen off a tank onto a frozen dirt road, fallen off a two story roof, bitten a molar in half and had to live with an exposed root for two days before the dentist could operate, and had a large number of very painful things in my life. But the pain I experienced on the day I fell and had to drive to the hospital and the pain I experienced the day after surgery when the nerve block wore off made me seriously recalibrate my concept of pain. And in both cases, I was very seriously medicated to the point of being stoned to the bejeezus on percocet. And I was still in agony beyond anything I have ever experienced.
I simply can not imagine having to go through that kind of pain while also worrying whether or not I will be able to pay for the surgery, or if it means I am going to lose my house, or the shame of declaring bankruptcy (and yes, the Bush era bankruptcy laws were, in large part, exercises in shaming the consumer), or any of the other things that the uninsured and the underclass in our society have to deal with every single day.
I know the current HCR bill is flawed, but for christ sakes, pass the God Damned bill already.