Rants about health-care bureaucracy. You’re making me destitute.

There’s a political debate in Washington, and increasingly in state legislatures, embroiling on what to do about the 47 million Americans without medical coverage. The new research conducted by the Journal of the American Medical Association shows that having insurance doesn’t guarantee someone can afford the care, reported the Boston Globe today.

I can personally attest to this. Listen up Washington.

I drove home yesterday to hurriedly wrap birthday presents before an 8:30pm birthday dinner at Lala’s. I grabbed the mail on my way up and just like any other day I was hopeful about good news being among the pile of bills, junk mail and credit card offers.

Not so much. Not today at least. I had two letters from a Dr. Michael Chaiken waiting to be opened. This name didn’t sound familiar. I’ve never even seen a Dr. Chaiken before in my life. And I had just paid for all the medical procedures that I had in December, which even after insurance (which is top of the line corporate insurance) still amounted to over $200, this not including the $600 something amount for dental work which is still being worked on. Hopefully tomorrow, and $2,500 later, will be my last dental visit in a very long time.

So, I opened this letter from Dr. Chaiken and it says that my echocardiogram from the Century City Doctors Hospital was sent to a team of cardiologists to be interpreted. And sometimes the representing doctor is not a part of the collecting insurance network. So, this Dr. Chaiken charged me $750.00 to probably glance at my echocardiogram for a second. I haven’t even seen the results of his interpretation. Ugh. And the insurance company isn’t covering any of it. So, the second letter was a bill saying that I had to remit a check for $750.00 upon receipt. I don’t have that much expendable money just sitting in my checking account. Dammit.

I would be in medical debt hell if I didn’t have corporate health insurance that my company picked up 3/4, if not more, of the tab for. I’ve had private insurance which is sometimes worse than not having insurance at all when you have a ridiculously insane deductible you first have to meet. I’ve had doctors arrange for me to pay cash instead of going through my private insurance (cough, cough Blue Cross of California) to cut the out-of-pocket cost for me.

The cost of health-care today is astronomically expensive and the costs trickle down bureaucratically to the consumers regardless of insurance coverage. It’s ridiculous what they charge to put a bandage on a superficial wound. There needs to be healthcare reform that actually makes a difference.

In just one year alone, my deductible, premium, co-payment and prescription drug costs have all increased between $10 to $20. Yet, my salary (SIDE NOTE: On February 1, 2007 the Senate voted overwhelmingly to increase the Federal Minimum wage to $7.25 per hour from $5.15 per hour over the course of two years. The Federal minimum wage increase, if signed by President Bush, will be the first increase in a decade. A decade!!!) has remained the same while the cost of living (apartment rental, home prices, gas, groceries, etc.) has rapidly increased.

All in all, we’re paying more for things but not being compensated by our living wages.

We can’t afford to live. We are barely scraping by.

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