Monday, December 2, 2013

It Costs What????????

Sunday night, December 1st, 2013 ~ 28 Kislev 5774

All day today was my mother's 91st birthday. Since she had opted to have a family thing for the 70th anniversary on November 3rd, I did not make my annual trek to Delray Beach for her birthday. Having to actually remember to mail a card was a stretch; I usually just bring it with me. Still, confess it feels strange after doing this for a decade or so not to be with her today. Instead I think I talked to  her on the phone at least 4 times.

Between her Facebook page and my Facebook page, she got a lot of birthday greetings, many of which were from people who would not have thought to sent a card, but were happy to write on her wall. I also posted a couple of cute kiddie pictures back from the days when my Grandma Bessie's Brownie was quite the techno-marvel of its day. I am the possessor of a fair number of her snapshots, and they are all pretty much a hoot. The scary part is that I can identify way too many of those subjects without much thought...even though very few are still around to correct me.

Mom was very excited when her kid brother called to tell her she was "all over the internet," which meant Uncle Budgie saw both my post and the post I did for Mom's Facebooik page on Aunty Gladknit's Facebook page since he doesn't have his own. Now, this is not exactly what one would call viral, but it sure tickled her fancy. And judging by the number of friends and cousins who posted, this was pretty good. I don't think Zuckerberg quite had this in mind when in invented Facebook. 

Monday, December 2nd, 2013 ~ 29 Kislev, 5774

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, the EOBs (explanation of benefits) for my father-in-law's adventure in healthcare have started to arrive. There isn't a single out-of-pocket dollar to date; Medicare and insurance has covered it all. Most of the bills just provide a cryptic clue to what the charge is for, but no details. A couple hundred for this doctor, a few hundred for that test. From the two and a half days at Woodwinds, the charge is $13,351.90. And that's mostly just the "medical care," "diagnostic tests," and "prescriptions drug." The one for St. Joe's is even better: That one is $97,452.58 for pretty much the same list, but he was in the hospital longer, there were a bunch of transfusions,  and he had 4 skopee tests.

What's a skopee, you well might ask. The "hospitalist" supposedly managing my father-in-law-the-big-animal-doctor kept talking about the endo-skopee test, and Sieg, as out of it as he was, kept yelling, "What's a skopee?" The doctor replied in his lilting Asian accent, "That's when they take the little tiny tube and put it....." I said, "An endoscopy, Pop!" And he yelled, "I know what an endoscopy is, I just didn't know what the hell a skopee was."

But back to the subject at hand. Medicare pays these without so much as a blink of the eye. On one hand, this is good, I suppose, but on the other, I'm kinda wondering about the prices. There's a rather fascinating article in the NY Times As Hospital Prices Soar, A Single Stitch Tops $500.  In it, is an equally fascinating illustration:

This really struck a nerve. As did the story on news about a company shifting the cost of health care onto its employees with huge increases to reduce its own out of pocket contribution and telling them ACA is to blame. Excuse me?????

Does anyone else out there want to stand up and shout out the window, We're mad as hell and we're not gonna take it anymore ?

Is it any wonder we have uninsured people and affordable health care is a fantasy? We have become a country of illness and ill will. We have a Congress that throws brickbats around the chamber, destroying everything in sight. We have politicians preaching the creation of virtual slave classes by refusing to consider upping minimum wage to a living wage. Our corporations spend  billions targeting kids with sugar and sodium laden foods there insuring we have a steady stream of adults with health issues from earliest childhood. How is this moral, right, or even acceptable?

And if you don't mind my being really blunt, there is no solution in sight. We do this to ourselves over and over and over. Obviously, self-control and self-regulation are not strong suits for We, the People.

The Wifely Person's Tip o'the Week
Leftover turkey has a fridge life of about 4 days. 
Chanukah, on the other hand, has a menorah life of 8 days. 
Enjoy both, but pitch the turkey after 4. 


  1. I think you know how I adore Dr. Chess Club, but he billed $80,000 for Mr. Brilliant's EDAS surgery. That's $32,000/hour. Seriously?

  2. My best wishes to your Mom. May she see 100 years!
    As a 62 year old woman, not quite ready for Medicare, and a procurer of private health insurance since 2006, I have witnessed the sticker shock for many years now. I find that most people who have government health care and employer health care have little concept of what things cost, even with the EOB. Pricing for medical care is totally incomprehensible and It really comes down to the negotiated prices between insurer and provider. I do remember in 2000 when I had employer-provided insurance (Kaiser-Permanente) for which I paid 80% of the premium, but no co-pays,that I ventured to New Mexico for a skiing vacation and broke my leg. Being "out-of-area" for Kaiser (they have no facilities in NM), I had to get advance permisssion for "emergency surgery" at the local hospital in Taos. I spent 2 nights in the hospital, plus the surgery to put my leg back together, and the total bill came to $26,000 which Kaiser settled (for much less I'm sure) within 9 months of haggling and I paid a total of $100 for the emergency room co-pay. Now I watch the many young people who have not have insurance before on their own, complain about $100 premiums with high deductibles..and I hear the right wingers complain that Medicaid patients will not get good doctors (they didn't have a doctor before)...blah...blah...under Obamacare. This heightened awareness of totally out of control medical insurance in America is a good thing. I predict that we shall have Medicare for all (or similar single payer medical care) within 10 years, thank you!

  3. Single payer, in 5 years. Book it.