A while back I had surgery for a chronic sinus condition, and reported on it here. I had what was called a balloon sinusplasty, which is the equivalent of an angioplasty, but up the nose. They insert a balloon catheter up the schnoz and, when positioned properly, it’s inflated, moving the bones back into their correct position. I opted for that instead of the usual cutting because it was less invasive and less traumatic to the system.
As surgeries go, it was a minor procedure. It took only a few hours and I was out of the hospital that day, within an hour after waking up. And all went well: I’m fine now.
But the bill came yesterday. I’m putting it up just so you can see what these things cost in America. The cost of just the surgery was $32,094.84. That doesn’t include the pre-operative and post-operative visits, the fees for the awesome anesthesiologist, nor the two MRIs I had to produce scans to help guide the surgeon. All told, the total bill would be close to forty thousand dollars.
Four thousand bucks for a balloon! (To be fair, I’m sure it was a pretty fancy balloon, all sterile and stuff.)
Part 2, with total (click to enlarge):
Look at all those drugs! It looks like Michael Jackson’s pharmacopeia, with some of the same stuff. $1400 for ketamine, and $76 for cocaine, which I wasn’t even awake to experience.
Now I didn’t have to pay all that: my university has a good insurance plan, and I paid about 5% of the total cost. That’s still a bite, but it was a bargain given the cost of medical care in the U.S.
But think of all the people without insurance! Many of them have to pay either the full cost or a substantial portion of that cost. People who have no money usually get treated for free—though I don’t know if they’d be allowed to have a sinus operation. It’s the people with some money, but who can’t afford insurance (or don’t have it provided by their job) who get screwed. And if you have to pay forty grand for a sinus operation, imagine what it would cost for something more serious, like heart surgery.
That’s why many Americans get bankrupted by medical costs, and why some have to choose between medical treatment and food. Some folks even lose their homes because they can’t afford both a mortgage and medical care.
I don’t know what the solution is to exponentially increasing medical costs. But I do know that all Americans need health insurance, and I see good medical care as a right, not a privilege. Other countries have done it; why not America? One reason, of course, is the Republicans, who care more about tax breaks for the rich than medical care for the poor. At this moment they’re vowing to overturn Obama’s health-care bill. They pretend that they just have to “fix” the bill, but in reality they could give a hoot if poor people went without medical care.
Maybe if people were faced with bills like this one, and had no insurance to cover the costs, they’d see why we need affordable medical care for all Americans, or mandatory insurance. Obama’s on the right track, and his opponents on this issue are simply callous and uncaring. I for one would gladly pay more taxes if it would provide medical care to those who weren’t as fortunate.