Medical test. This won’t hurt.

My healthcare rant.

This isn’t a criticism of the Affordable Care Act specifically. It’s about the status quo, which hasn’t really changed, at least for us, for about 20 years. Or more.

I hadn’t gone to the doctor because I’m feeling fine. But they called. It’s been a while, and I did have a heart attack, after all. Please come see us. Okay, fine.

Now, we are insured. It’s not fly-by-night Smallville Medco Insurance Corp, which we have done for “affordability,” only to find out it wasn’t so. (Years later, we did get a check for a few bucks out of a class-action suit.  It cured the insult about 1%.) No, our insurance is Kaiser freakin’ Permanente. Yes, our insurance premiums are about the same as our mortgage. Yeah, we got a nice tax break for it. Yes, we’ve liked the treatment. And so it goes. That’s life in the 21st Century.

I go the the facility and pay my $50 copay before seeing the cardiologist. As part of my history on current medications, I put down “acetylsalicylic acid 81 mg,” and sure enough, no one comments on that, making me wonder if anyone even reads it. Well, likely, someone does and they just roll their eyes. Anyway, I’m seen by a very nice, caring, concerned cardio doctor. No criticisms there. He listens carefully and takes his time with me.

He says, Well, we need to keep working on bringing your blood pressure down. (Yes, I know, thanks.) Otherwise, you’re asymptomatic. But we should do an echocardiogram, just for grins.

Okay, fine. They want to be reassured and keep down their liability. I understand. Sounds good. Can’t hurt (or at least not physically). We schedule the test for three days away.

I’m called by the medical facility later to confirm. They have additional things to tell me. Oh, your insurance covers this and this – but, well, this is your deductible – and this is your percentages – and the procedure is $2500 – and you need to come to the session and pay half of that before we get started.

Blink, blink.

Now, I can fork over $1250, sure. But unlike, perhaps, the doctor who saw me, I would feel it. To me, $1250 is not a negligible sum. But I suspect that I might be in slightly better shape than a bunch of Americans facing the same situation, who may well not be able to fork over $1250 on a medical whim.

Let’s think about the cost of that medical whim. They’re saying, “See you in three days, and bring over a grand.” All so that I can pay $1250 to test things that I don’t have a symptom for.

What else could $1250 do? Fly me on a lovely weekend with the bride out of town. Go to a weekend convention and splurge on food and drink. Renew the blog for a number of years. Put a substantial payment down on a decent car for a grandkid. Buy the camera of my dreams. Get treatments for the yard so it looks green for a few months. Start the flooring replacement on the main level. I mean, there are nice things to do with that sum that sound better than a 15-minute session with an ultrasound pestle.

So is $1250 worth going to get a test for a condition that I’m asymptomatic on, just to reassure a doc that things are okay, just as he told me they are anyway? I figure: Y’know what, I can reassure him of that for free.

I cancel the test. Yes, I explain why. It was TMI for the lady on the other end of the line, who I’m sure just wanted to get to her next scheduling and away from the irascible old guy on the phone, but sometimes you just gotta say what you gotta say.

My medical Armageddon (the aforementioned and linked heart attack) occurred before the Affordable Care Act, which unaffordably replaced the previous unaffordable care, and I’m going to be paying on that (the heart attack) for another four years still. And before the ACA came into being, the premiums and the stuff that the premiums didn’t cover (see prior reference to Smallville Medco) were eating us alive. And I make decent money – not mad money, but decent money. You take us down a few economic levels right now, and I simply don’t know what we’d do.

From the evidence in front of me, I’d have to say that when it comes to healthcare, the free market has failed, government corrections haven’t made it appreciably better from my view, and I’m being left with the notion that there’s no good answer that’s acceptable politically, and it’s frustrating as hell.

End of rant and today’s critique of our enlightened society.

— Grandpa

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