Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Tuesday morning coffee

Good morning. We're onto the second pot of coffee this morning, and it feels like a slow Monday here at the compound. Miz has returned to work, and I'm sitting here waiting for a contractor to show up for an estimate on a new front porch. I tried to get my doctor appointment moved up, so I could go back to work tomorrow and have the satisfaction of not taking an entire month off. Doc's office says that can't happen, and I can't even get an earlier appointment tomorrow. Oh well. Not counting the days that I was scheduled to be off anyway, and the vacation days that I planned on taking but which the Department has to give back because I'm on sick leave, I only missed 13 days of work. Not bad for recovery from abdominal surgery, I think.

Speaking of all things surgical, I just got all my bills and insurance statements. I think I did, anyway. Total retail cost of my gut surgery: $22, 740. Amount I have to pay after insurance: $965. I am one lucky man. $965, while a pain in the ass, is not going to kill me. For a lot of other people, though, that's a month's rent or a house payment, or car repairs that won't get paid for. This is how people in America go bankrupt. According to a study by Harvard University, over a million Americans went bankrupt as a result of injury or illness in 2004. The same study says that more than half of bankruptcy filings are due to medical issues. Here's my favorite quote from that second article:

"Our study is frightening. Unless you're Bill Gates you're just one serious illness away from bankruptcy," said Dr. David Himmelstein, an associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School who led the study.

Thank you insurance industry, thank you HMO's, thank you trial lawyers, and most of all thank you Republican party and everyone else who screams socialism every time the topic of single payer, national healthcare comes up.

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