Uninsured Resort To Setting Own Broken Bones

Think you could set your own broken bone? That’s what some of the millions of uninsured people in America end up doing when they need medical care.

Other strategies include self-diagnosing online, visiting cheap and free clinics, the extremely dangerous practice of trading meds with friends, and getting other people with insurance to get their scrips for them via sympathetic doctors. A good number of the uninsured, especially in places like New York, are freelancers recently out of college in jobs with no health benefits.

The good news is that by joining a group like Freelancer’s Union you can get access to affordable health care, provided your industry meets the eligibility requirements. It’s certainly better than the alternative, putting a $17,000 hospital bill on credit cards, or tying a split with one hand while turning the pages of a battlefield medic manual with the other.

For Uninsured Young Adults, Do-It-Yourself Health Care [NYT] (Photo: clango)

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  1. Buckaroo_GitEmSteveDave says:

    My father, an ex-cop in Newark, NJ for 30 years, told me something he still says to this day. “Everybody’s Nuts”. THIS is yet another hash mark on the score board for his argument. There are times you should goto a hospital, and times when it’s questionable. Setting a broken bone is NOT one of those times. You don’t know what damage is present. Let’s say you do though. So while setting your bone, you happen to clip a vein. Was the bill worth you bleeding out internally?

    • Cocotte says:

      @Buckaroo_GitEmSteveDave: You make it sound like they’re making a choice to be thrifty, when more likely they just don’t have the money.

      If it was reported that people were having to resort to setting their own bones in another country we’d be shocked and think it was a pretty backward place.

      • Buckaroo_GitEmSteveDave says:

        @Cocotte: A hospital HAS TO treat you if you are injured. That is why many hospitals go bankrupt. They get flooded with illegal aliens/ homeless people, who get treated/use it as a primary care facility, then duck the bill.

        I’ve gone to a hospital w/o insurance. And yes, the bills are high. BUT, if you talk to someone, they will usually take cash on the barrel at a discount, rather than wait for you to pay off an inflated bill. I currently am w/o insurance, and have made arrangements w/all my doctors to pay them at the time of service for maybe 3x what my “co-pay” used to be. Still reasonable, if you ask me, and I see them all at a regular interval.

        • bohemian says:

          @Buckaroo_GitEmSteveDave: Yea a hospital has to treat you. They can also pursue you like the hounds of hell, refuse to reduce your bill, take you to court and garnish your wages or take property.

          I have seen people totally ruined by a health system (hospital & clinic system). We have one that has half of the state facilities. They regularly drain people to the point they lose their homes.

        • Eyebrows McGee (now with double the baby!) says:

          @Buckaroo_GitEmSteveDave: My husband actually does collections work for the major local hospital (with the level 1 trauma center and the big ER, so they get all the crazy), and surprisingly few of the collections involve illegals or homeless people. As do surprisingly few of the hospital’s charitable write-offs. It’s mostly working families without insurance or families who are on the welfare borderlines. (They mostly only get the homeless when they’ve been picked up by the cops and dragged in to the hospital.)

          I’m sure it varies by area, but I suspect illegals-as-cause-of-high-hospital-costs is somewhat overblown.

          • Buckaroo_GitEmSteveDave says:

            @Eyebrows McGee: Sorry to imply ALL hospitals, but many in areas near borders, California, etc.. have problems and sometimes go bankrupt. I apologize.

            • floraposte says:

              @Buckaroo_GitEmSteveDave: And hospitals will sometimes turn people away, whether they’re required to treat or not. (Not that likely with a coherent healthy 22-year-old with a broken arm, of course, just pointing out that a requirement doesn’t mean it always is adhered to.)

            • Eyebrows McGee (now with double the baby!) says:

              @Buckaroo_GitEmSteveDave: Around here they go bankrupt because our ex-governor couldn’t manage to pay out state medicare and medicaid funds within a 6-month window. :P Blagojevich: the gift that keeps on giving!

        • MrEvil says:

          @Buckaroo_GitEmSteveDave: I paid “cash on the barrel” to have a routine test done that was ordered by my GP. Y’know what happened? The bastards called me back 2 days later demanding an extra $150 because they “forgot” to charge me enough. They’re still trying to collect that money from me.

          What other industry where you go in for any type of service can the business call you back and demand payment for shit they “forgot” to charge you for and legally be able to collect?

      • TechnoDestructo says:

        @Cocotte:

        But here it’s just a sign that the free market is working, and the inefficient are being weeded out of the system.

    • Segador says:

      @Buckaroo_GitEmSteveDave: I agree completely- a broken bone is one of those times when you need to go to an ER. If left untreated, sepsis and blood poisoning can be common and often fatal symptoms.

      I was going to write more, but I have so much to say about the entire healthcare system that I’d better not even start. Great perspective, SteveDave.

    • chenry says:

      I’m just here to say I have socialized medicine and it’s frigging beautiful.

      • Segador says:

        @chenry: The fact that you enjoy socialist medical care is frightening.(unless I’m missing some sarcasm here) Where do you live?

        • DH405 says:

          @Segador: It’s frightening that someone enjoys having medical care available? You think people WANT to be stuck without options when they don’t have the money available?

          Oh, right. I forgot. In a capitalist society, it’s perfectly reasonable and moral to watch a man die in the street if he can’t pay you for your precious time. My mistake.

        • Trai_Dep says:

          @Segador: Well, our elected representatives – including even the most Conservative, ‘natch – enjoy free, Socialist medical care. For life.
          Seems if it’s good enough for Bonier, Kantor, Gingrich, Gramm, Bushes, etc…

        • David in Brasil says:

          @Segador: I moved to Brasil 3 years ago. The socialized medical system here is not frightening at all. It works just fine. My upper middle class family pays about $120 per month for extra insurance and we get excellent, quick, hassle-free treatment in a clinic or hospital that’s as nice as any in my home town near Dallas. Blue collar people don’t pay the extra insurance, and yes, they go to a public clinic and may wait for a few minutes to be seen, but their care is good – and free. I’ve never heard of anyone setting their own bones or trading meds or putting up with being sick or injured because they couldn’t see a Dr. It just doesn’t happen.

          My friends in the US recoil at the mention of “socialized medicine”; it’s been politicized into such a boogey-man phrase. But they don’t know what they’re talking about. Granted, it may not work everywhere, but for the routine medical care that comprises 95% of visits to doctors’ offices, it works just fine.

          • trujunglist says:

            @David in Brasil:

            That’s because it has the word “socialized” in it, referring to socialism, which Americans have been brainwashed to despise from the time we can understand such things until the time when we learn that everything is complete bullshit anyway.

      • Trai_Dep says:

        @chenry: Now that’s just cruel. :)

      • richcreamerybutter says:

        @chenry: I am definitely envious. I had enough to pay the required 3 months up front on my plan this year, and now ironically have no spare money for specialist copays for the time being. So yes, I am doing a bit of self-diagnosis at home, at least enough to reassure me I won’t die soon.

        I keep hearing these right wing knuckleheads screaming, “mah family and I don’t want none of yer socialist handouts!!” Well fine then, I’ll take your socialized medicine and raise you a clean bill of health.

    • Chris Valente says:

      @SonOfNannerPuss_GitEmSteveDave: Wow, So glad i have gov’t health insurance, we hardly have to pay anything on most things. Its gonna suck when I graduate college

  2. RandomHookup says:

    I can’t wait until the Do-It-Yourself Breast Implants kit comes available.

  3. FangDoc says:

    I’ve seen some pretty interesting cases where uninsured people tried to extract their own teeth, and then I’ve had to go in and remove the shattered infected roots.

    There is NOT a type of alcohol that gets you drunk enough to be numb but sober enough to perform a surgical procedure. Please be advised.

    • TCTH says:

      @FangDoc: So what do people who simply can’t afford your bill do then?

      • weave says:

        @TCTH: If you can live with the pain long enough, eventually the nerve dies and if you’re lucky the infection will drain. With that said, that infection can cause all sorts of nasty other medical complications.

        There was a time in my life where I couldn’t afford dental work and just let shit go. Lost a few teeth up front (my face swelled up and I had to scrape money together to get them removed). Eventually when I had better income, I ended up sinking $30k into fixing my mouth including numerous crowns and bridges to fill in the empty spots — and that was back in the late 80s.

        One person I know who had a mouth of crap went to a specialist a few years ago and had all her rotted black teeth removed and replaced with a mouth of implants for a tidy sum of $80,000.

        This is one case where going into debt for a bit to fix problems early will save you far more down the line than the interest on that debt would cost you now.

        • rugman11 says:

          @weave: Yeah. Dental Insurance can be purchased (in some states) for as little as $100/yr. Hardly back breaking even if you figure in another $100-$200/yr in copays. Definitely better than putting up five figures later in life to fix everything that went wrong.

        • the_wiggle says:

          @weave: still can’t be done unless you can afford to get into that debt. too many folks literally cannot.

          and while there’s some charity dental for minors, the’re not squat for adults.

      • Woot!-Off_GitEmSteveDave says:

        @TCTH: Watch the Documentary “Cast Away”.

        @FangDoc: My Ex did a great job with just a plastic pool toy 5 years ago. Hit my teeth(8&9) dead on. Not a drop of blood shed, just two broken teeth at the bottom of a pool:

  4. GinaLouise says:

    I, too, know the pain of breaking a bone while not having insurance, during the year between graduating from college and getting my first real job.

    Urgent care clinic + X-rays + cast = More than $200. I can’t lie: I briefly considered letting the bone “heal itself” (like in olden times!) but the thought of a permanently crooked middle metacarpal in my hand made me shell out the money. I don’t want to imagine how much it would’ve cost for a more complex break.

    • GinaLouise says:

      @GinaLouise: Forgot to mention: I actually got a good deal, because I didn’t pay a doctor to re-examine me / take the cast off. I begged a friend in the sports medicine department at my old school to illicitly use the medical saw to crack that baby open. Yay American healthcare system!

      • xenth says:

        @GinaLouise: How is $200 for clinic+xray+cast worse than spending more than that in taxes on Britain’s national health care? You’re paying either way, at least in America I get to decide whether something is worth going to the doc for.

        • tongsy says:

          @xenth: If you got cancer or something else that is very serious, you’d be wishing you were in Britain where it wouldn’t cost you anything out of pocket

          • Murph1908 says:

            @tongsy:
            I guess people here aren’t reading the stories about England where PEOPLE ARE DOING THIS EXACT SAME THING because of the long waits to see a doctor.

            Seriously. I read just last week about a guy who pulled his own tooth because he couldn’t get in to see a dentist!

            As always, my suggestion has been, fix the cause, and not the symptom. Quit trying to figure out ways to make sure everyone can pay for it as it in its current state. Limit malpractice, lower the drain on the system by illegal immigrants, and find ways other ways to lower the cost of hospitals doing business by ease of applicable regulations.

            As an example of the last part, did you know the lancet needles diabetics use to prick their fingers have an expiration date? Because it is used for a medical procedure, by law, it must have one. How many items that don’t really expire are being discarded yearly by hospitals?

            And the costs for malpractice insurance and legal representation are out of control. Doctors are leaving Maryland because of insurance rates. Tort reform and lawsuit abuse as a whole must be addressed in America. You read about the kid who was paralyzed in a car accident? He was drinking at a friend’s house, got in the car with another friend who was drinking, and got into an accident on the way home. Of course, he sued…the owner of the house where he was drinking, naturally. The homeowners insurance settled, so we all get to pay increased premiums for that one.

            • sir_eccles says:

              @Murph1908: Comparing the situation to British dentistry is a bad idea. Why? Well, the concept of free NHS dentistry doesn’t exist any more. Someone (I can’t remember who probably the Tory party) let all dentists choose if they wanted to do private or NHS work. 99.9% went private for obvious reasons. To see any dentist now you have to buy their over priced insurance package, that is assuming they decide you are worth their time to let in to their practice.

              So, to answer your point. Why are British people pulling their own teeth when they have the NHS? Because the NHS doesn’t do teeth anymore.

              • Skipweasel says:

                @sir_eccles: That depends a lot on where you live. Here in Telford we have a very nice local NHS dentist who was quite happy to have us on his books. Shortly after, another NHS dentist opened shop about 200yds away and seems to be doing fine. Both dentists still accept new NHS patients.

            • TCTH says:

              @Murph1908: Bull CRAP!!! You could do every one of th9ose things and we would still have millions of people… WORKING people… who couldn’t afford adequate health care or insurance premiums.

              Stop looking at this as an individual issue… it’s just another symptom… along with a collapsed economy… of the sense of entitlement those at the top of the food chain feel toward the fruits of everyone else’s labors.

              Every nickel you claim we could “save” would go into some offshore corporate tax shelter and the costs of health care for the working stiffs would continue to be out of reach for millions.

            • gttim says:

              @Murph1908: Actually it is not tort reform and lawsuit abuse that need to be looked at. What is needed is insurance and doctor regulation. Malpractice Insurance should be regulated by the states. Insurance companies make a mint on malpractice insurance, and when their investments crash, they jack up rates. And since doctors cannot be counted on to police the less than 5% of doctors that cause well over 90% of malpractice lawsuits, either the state needs to do it, or the doctors should just STFU and pay the premiums.

              Legal bills and lawsuits are less than 1% of the medical spending each year. This is not driving the rates up.

              • oilburner says:

                @gttim: Yes yes, I’m certain that what is needed is more government regulation. Because when the government gets involved everything gets better, right?

            • Rectilinear Propagation says:

              @Murph1908: Don’t forget the cost of actually becoming a doctor in the first place. We need doctors, nurses, etc. too much to make it so unaffordable to become one.

            • David Brodbeck says:

              @Murph1908: I guess people here aren’t reading the stories about England where PEOPLE ARE DOING THIS EXACT SAME THING because of the long waits to see a doctor.

              Seriously. I read just last week about a guy who pulled his own tooth because he couldn’t get in to see a dentist!

              Uhm, you do know that dental work isn’t covered under England’s national health plan, right? They rely on private insurance for that, just like we do.

            • edwardso says:

              @Murph1908: I sometimes have to wait 2-3 months to get an appointment too

          • richcreamerybutter says:

            @shepd: I take it you don’t have an American HMO. You’re familiar with their objectives, yes?

        • GinaLouise says:

          @xenth: Well, that $200+ was for a fairly minor break in one small bone in my hand, after a fall. Imagine being in a car accident, and having to set multiple bones or worse.

        • Eyebrows McGee (now with double the baby!) says:

          @xenth: ‘Cause we pay nearly as much (or fully as much) in taxes as many European countries, don’t insure everyone, and get half the health care for our dollar that other countries manage to get?

          (I did the math once, and if we count our health care premiums as “taxes,” my effective tax rate is higher than if I lived in Sweden. And my husband’s employer is paying a HUGE chunk towards the rest of the cost of those premiums that we never even see, let alone pay.)

          I spent half a freakin’ hour on the phone with my insurer yesterday trying to establish whether they felt I was, or was not, allowed to have my baby. I was of the opinion the baby wasn’t particularly interested in their permission, but apparently it’s quite important. And then we spent a further 15 minutes with me attempting to get them to explain how clocks work in crazy insurance world, because “two days” means something other than “48 hours” but they were completely unable to explain to me WHAT “two days” meant. Which seemed a little important since after two days I start paying through the nose.

          • shepd says:

            @Eyebrows McGee:

            You pay nearly as much taxes? I doubt it. This is my situation. I make the income, my wife is a homemaker. Our family’s total taxes in Canada: $11,219 CDN. Total taxes in the US (using an online tax guesstimator): $5,202 CDN.

            Feel free to calculate the taxes on $55,000 CDN of income ($44,000 US today), if you don’t believe me.

            In fact, from what I can see, you pay about half the taxes I do. I’ve always argued that US healthcare is better than Canada’s (it is, at least for me, my local hospital has the highest death rate of all of Canada, and the average wait time at the ER for stitches is over 8 hours) and it’s much cheaper, to boot.

            Unless medical insurance costs more than $346 a month for a couple, that is. Even if it is a bit more, having been in a US hospital, ER wait times are usually under 2 hours. There isn’t a single hospital in Canada that can boast that quick of a time, even for serious injuries.

            • Anonymous says:

              @shepd: Yes, that was Eyebrows’ point. Many many people pay more than $346 per couple per month for medical insurance, and that’s not even counting the copays for visits and drugs. You may think things are not great in Canada, but the grass over there sure looks green from here.

            • Eyebrows McGee (now with double the baby!) says:

              @shepd: We paid $4994.88 in premiums in 2008 for 2 people, which is $416.24/month. My husband’s employer paid a further $15,000ish in premiums for our coverage. For two people. That’s money that presumably could otherwise be in our paycheck.

              Before we see a single penny of coverage, we pay $1500 out of pocket, each, or $3,000. Now, we did choose a high-deductible plan, which is why our premiums are so LOW. So we pay approximately $8,000/year ($4994.88 in premiums + $3,000 deductibles) before we receive ANY coverage benefit. When the coverage kicks in, we typically pay 20% of the cost of coverage anyway.

              So we’re paying $8,000/year in health care costs BEFORE RECEIVING ANY COVERAGE BENEFIT, or $667/month for a healthy young couple. My husband’s employer picks up a further $15,000/year, or $1250/month. Thereafter, we still pay 20% of the cost of all treatment.

              We also pay approximately $6,000/year into FICA, which we currently receive no benefit from, but you could break down how much of that is going to taxpayer-funded health care if you like.

              We have excellent insurance, and in our state it is considered low-cost. We were quoted rates of $1200/month/couple when we were shopping private insurance at one point.

              Incidentally, one of the great falsehoods in “tax comparison calculators” is that they often contrast a country’s unified total tax with the US’s FEDERAL tax, which of course makes the US come out ahead. We pay not only federal income taxes, but FICA taxes, and state income taxes. (As well as property taxes and sales tax, which typically one would figure separately.) Federal, FICA, and state will often take you close to Canadian and European tax rates, even before you start paying for your health care.

              • _catlike_ says:

                @Eyebrows McGee: You can add to that the local county/city income taxes some states impose, as well.

              • shepd says:

                @Eyebrows McGee:

                Good point about just being Federal Tax. Well, at least I’m right if you were living in Texas :) (or do they have something else like but not the same as State income tax).

                However, please remember, “free” medical care in Canada covers ONLY hospital visits and most family doctor visits and nothing else whatsoever. This means you pay for:

                - ALL drugs that you take outside the hospital (although for a certain very limited number of drugs, you will get a discount from the government)
                – ALL therapy done outside a hospital
                – All dental. Period.
                – Certain homecare visits.
                – Eyecare

                The only exceptions generally involve some form of legal disability.

                Basically, the idea is the government will kick in and pay for things if it’s life threatening or life disabling. Stitches, broken leg, heart attack, chemo? Yes. Cancer pills, crazy meds, glasses to correct most vision problems, toothaches, etc. No. Yes, there are obviously some exceptions.

                To beef up your coverage, you will buy private insurance in Canada, and for full coverage, that can cost hundreds of dollars per month per individual if your company doesn’t cover it.

                So, the basic number I’m interested in for comparison is: How much insurance, in the US, would the average person buy to cover their family against *ONLY* absolute emergency hospital visits in your worst hospitals (WoodHull sounds about like the hospitals here, give or take). That covers about 90% of our coverage, or really 100% of the coverage you would expect to get as a fresh Canadian resident. The supposed ability to get a family doctor is a national joke here since the waiting lists to get a family doctor in a new city range from a year to a decade depending on where you are, so don’t bother including that.

                For those suggesting the waits are as long as Canadian hospitals during the “peak” hours, you might be right. But I was talking anytime here. And, in many cities, there will be no “off-peak” hours, since we are closing ER in medium->smaller sized towns outside of daytime hours. (Yes, that’s 100% serious [www.theobserver.ca] )

                Considering many Canadians pay to go to the US for MRIs and the like (waiting lists can be several months long) and actually manage to get them, there have to be at least SOME hospitals in the US that don’t suck. You see, there isn’t such a thing in Canada because all hospitals here are equivalent to your HMOs. You *can’t* pay to get better. It’s illegal. In fact, doing this is so popular, US companies advertise the service:

                [www.buffalo-mri-cat-scans.com]

                Now, for the hard numbers:

                ER wait time average in Canada’s worst province: 20 hours, 42 minutes. [sigmundcarlandalfred.wordpress.com]

                ER wait time average in the US’s worst state: 4 hours, 57 minutes. [www.msnbc.msn.com]

            • Eyebrows McGee (now with double the baby!) says:

              @shepd: “having been in a US hospital, ER wait times are usually under 2 hours. “

              Having been in *A* US hospital, you judge all our ER wait times as under 2 hours? I don’t think I’ve EVER been in and out of an ER that fast. Once I waited 2 hours for someone to bring the cup to pee in for the pregnancy test before I could get a CAT scan on a head wound.

              • catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

                @Eyebrows McGee: hear hear!

                i especially enjoyed the 2 hour wait time in the ER waiting room while i was lapsing into a diabetic coma [before i was diagnosed] and then 2 days in the ER because intensive care was full up. nothing like being on a gurney in the back hallway of the ER with an intensive care nurse watching you and a couple of other people because that’s all they can spare. and i live in ‘the city of medicine’ !

                i have also had a 6 hour wait time in the ER while a different hospital WAS WAITING FOR A GERIATRIC PATIENT TO DIE so there would be a bed for me but that was under the first pres. bush.

              • Adrienne Willis says:

                @Eyebrows McGee: on Christmas eve I went to the SUNY Downstate hospital ER in Brooklyn for chest pains (turns out it was anxiety). I walked in at 12 noon (the place was empty) and had to force the attending doctor to release me because no one had seen me by 7pm. The only thing that I had done (after the triage at 12:30) was blood drawn at 2pm (never got the results of that). 7 hours!!!!! Simply inexcusable.

                The only reason I went is my regular PCP didn’t have any appointments for the day.

              • Woot!-Off_GitEmSteveDave says:

                @Eyebrows McGee: When my front teeth were knocked out, I waited 5 hours to be seen. Want to know why I was seen then? I don’t like sitting down for long periods of time, and was walking in and out of the ER waiting room. While I was leaning against a wall near the main desk, the admitting nurse asked me, “What’s wrong w/you?”. I opened my mouth showing her the gaping hole, and she said “What’s your name”. I was in ten minutes later.

            • TWinter says:

              @shepd: Unless medical insurance costs more than $346 a month for a couple, that is.

              That’s funny!!!!!!!

              Insurance often costs more than that for a single person.

              My employer makes it a habit to let us know EXACTLY how much they are paying for our health insurance. It’s currently $426/month for my medical & dental insurance. And my employer is quite large, so that is a group rate. I don’t have to pay any of that, but if I had a spouse or children I would be shelling out hundreds a month to have them covered.

            • EarlNowak says:

              @shepd: Decent health insurance for a healthy adult couple in the US generally runs around $8,000 a year. For a family of four, you’re looking closer to $12,000.

              Emergency only insurance for a couple (insurance with a $5000 deductable, generally covering catastrophic injuries, accidents, illnesses) will be around your $350 a month mark, but that won’t include preventative care or office visits.

            • weave says:

              @shepd: Group rate for a family where I work is $1,125 a month. The employer pays it but essentially it’s still a labor cost to them along with one’s salary. For a single person it’s around $500 a month, so your tax rate is less than the cost of insurance — and btw, I’ve spent several hours in the ER here in horrible intestinal pain before. Basically you’re triaged and if you’re not dying and the place is busy, you wait. I eventually was looked over, determined I wasn’t dying, given a pill, and discharged (which I threw up in the parking lot)

            • richcreamerybutter says:

              @shepd: Even if it is a bit more, having been in a US hospital, ER wait times are usually under 2 hours.

              Google “Woodhull Hospital Brooklyn NY.” I dare ya. This is our local 3rd world butcher. Although it is the closest to my neighborhood, it’s a known fact that accident victims will rise from unconsciousness long enough to plead, “…NOT Woodhull! ANY place but Woodhull!”

            • richcreamerybutter says:

              @shepd: here I’ll give you a hand:

              [www.yelp.com]

            • edwardso says:

              @shepd: insurance for my husband and myself is about $385 and I have to pay $30 for my PCP and $40 for a specialist plus a deductable and $15-60 for each Rx (5 per month) And that is pretty average around my circle of 20 something friends

            • Ratty says:

              @shepd: Oh. my. God. A fellow Canadian upset at the health care system? yes! My insurance for a “family” is $175/month, by the by. fairly negligible co-pays on all. but I get treated quickly, I get treated professionally, and I get treated by a quality doctor. I ge tthe best treatment for one co-pay, period. At least when i was in Canada they’d actually add charges on for things like better crutches, or fibreglass casts, or whatever.

              And some real crap I hated in Canada was having to buy dental and optical insurance separately. You still had to have health insurance! oh, and some provinces also ask a yearly user fee–which amounts to half of what i pay in my insurance premiums anyway!

              • johnva says:

                @Ratty: There is NO way that $175/month is the full cost of health insurance for a family in the United States. You’re probably neglecting to mention an employer contribution or something.

                And I’ve never seen a health insurance plan here in the U.S. that include dental and optical. Those are always separate.

                • edwardso says:

                  @johnva: Agreed. That’s my individual rate, after my employer pays 60%

                • catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

                  @johnva: my health plan includes part of the dental surgeries that my dental doesn’t cover and optical lab tests [i have to have my optic nerve imaged every year for my MS]
                  but preventative services, basic dental, regular eye exams and glasses are covered under separate plans, yes

                • Ratty says:

                  @johnva: $175 from my pocket monthly. yes, it comes from an employer. The majority of Americans’ insurance does. And $175 is for optical, dental, medical *combined*, it’s not HMO, and it’s a low co-pay. My employer contributes 75% of the cost. Cut out the optical and dental and we’re looking at roughly $130 a month from me.

                  • dragonfire81 says:

                    @Ratty: The bottom line is the US offers some of the best health care in the world for those who have buckets of money to shell out on it.

                    It’s a system whereby your income level directly relates to the level of care you receive.

          • David in Brasil says:

            @Eyebrows McGee: That’s a hoot! They must use the U-Haul clock, where a “day” is 6 hours.

    • TCTH says:

      @GinaLouise: So you had the money to shell out. What if you hadn’t?

  5. papahoth says:

    Hey, we spend twice per person as much as the next country and we are getting are money’s worth — people have been trained in medical do it yourself skills. Bet the average European couldn’t do this.

  6. MikeWas says:

    I’ve seen lots of people try to represent themselves in court for foreclosure cases – this is no different.

  7. Eyebrows McGee (now with double the baby!) says:

    I know a guy who DID HIS OWN VASECTOMY. But not because he didn’t have insurance, just because he was a veterinarian. He’d discussed it with his wife, hadn’t gotten around to making the appointment yet, and is standing there making his morning coffee in his bathrobe, staring half-awake at his junk, and thinks, “I’ve done thousands of these on cats and dogs. Why do I need to pay the doctor?”

    Grabbed his surgical scissors, snip snip. His wife was furious.

    I also know multiple vets who’ve stitched themselves or removed a doctor’s stitches to RE-STITCH themselves because they felt the doctor was too sloppy and they could do a better job.

    Moral: Veterinarians are slightly crazy.

    • suzieq says:

      @Eyebrows McGee: I once knew a vet that, when their kid got sick, would write prescriptions for amoxicillin for their dog and then give the pills to the kid. Apparently you can fill dog prescriptions for antibiotics at people pharmacies.

      Yes, vets are very crazy.

      • Eyebrows McGee (now with double the baby!) says:

        @suzieq: “Apparently you can fill dog prescriptions for antibiotics at people pharmacies.”

        Oh yes. We had a diabetic cat who used to have all kinds of special needs, and we were frequently not only at the people pharmacy but at the compounding pharmacy to get non-standard pet meds that the vet didn’t stock. The pharmacists were always delighted to be filling an Rx for a cat, I guess because it was at least a little unusual.

        • weave says:

          @Eyebrows McGee: My Dog has to take eye drops for glaucoma that costs $85 for 0.25ml :( Always fun to go the the pharmacy and ask to pick up a prescription for “Lady.” Sometimes they ask for DOB and I’m like “Got me, I rescued her from someone else’s back yard” — get a blank look then — “she’s a dog.”

        • catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

          @Eyebrows McGee: my cat uses my leftover insulin needles, since i switched to a pump. we get her insulin at the target pharmacy.

        • AD8BC says:

          @Eyebrows McGee: My cat has a heart condition and was prescribed Atenolol, a people medicine for cardiovascular desease. 1/4 pill daily (and those pills are small to begin with). She loves her daily “treat” of tuna or lunchmeat with the 1/4 pill carefully hidden inside. And that’s one of the cheapest damn drugs I’ve ever had to buy from my local Wal*Mart pharmacy.

      • _catlike_ says:

        @suzieq: My cat even takes advantage of the $4 generics! (Her meds are off-label use people drugs.)

      • trujunglist says:

        @suzieq: @Eyebrows McGee: @weave: @catastrophegirl: @AD8BC:

        My dog eventually became diabetic, went blind, and had to have insulin shots + other special meds every day. I often went to the local pharmacy to fill her prescription. I always thought it was hilarious that it had her full name on it, “Gordo Z. Mylastname”, DOB which was a best guess, etc

    • Buckaroo_GitEmSteveDave says:

      @Eyebrows McGee: When my mom suspected I broke my collar bone falling out of a parked truck, she brought me to the vet hospital she worked at and had me x-rayed. When she confirmed it was broken, off to the hospital we went. She still denies the first part of the story, but I got my cheapness from somewhere, and I tell her it’s nothing to be ashamed of. Very smart move, honestly.

    • opsomath says:

      @Eyebrows McGee: that’s awesome. Ultimate DIY.

    • calquist says:

      @Eyebrows McGee: Like that guy on House who tried to do his own circumcision. Yikes.

    • Tzepish says:

      @Eyebrows McGee: Where’s the Family Guy puking animated gif when you need it?

  8. insertname says:

    Wow makes me glad to be a Canadian. I suffered a peri-talar dislocation in South Africa, but had my Canadian health plan and they took care of the 5 times I had to go under and the surgery and 3 days straight of morphine. While I was in the hospital I met a South African with the same injury who told me he ‘relocated’ his own bone after getting to an accident and it got wrenched out of place beneath a pedal. ‘I told him I was a Canadian and a pussy and would take the anesthesia.’

  9. IT-Chick says:

    A lot of the uninsured are also going to Emergency Rooms since they are required to provide medical treatment regardless of the patient’s insurance status or ability to pay. I have family that works in a hospital in the Chicago suburbs and it is really hurting the hospital financially as well as creates longer wait times in the ER.

    • Eyebrows McGee (now with double the baby!) says:

      @IT-Chick: This is one reason I wish some of the doctors groups would quit fighting the drug-store clinics — if you offer a working family with no insurance the choice of taking a kid with a fever to the local drugstore to see a Nurse Practitioner for $20 and 30 minutes of your life, or sitting for endless time in the ER, most of them are going to pick the clinic.

      Honestly, I’m surprised more urban hospitals haven’t fought to attach similar clinics to their ERs and fought to get state funding for them. Surely it would be cheaper for the state to pay to get the strep throat cases shunted to a well-staffed minor-illness clinic attached to the ER than to process them all through the ER.

      • ohnoes says:

        @Eyebrows McGee: Keep in mind that you pay for what you get.

        • ohnoes says:

          @ohnoes: Sorry, that should have been, “Keep in mind that you get what you pay for.”

        • Eyebrows McGee (now with double the baby!) says:

          @ohnoes: I fail to see your point.

        • Buckaroo_GitEmSteveDave says:

          @ohnoes: Have to agree w/Eyebrows here. Health care in general would IMPROVE if the ER was clogged with actual Emergencies and/or things that are now emergencies that could have been dealt w/earlier(ounce of prevention worth a lb of cure) instead of what usually fills the waiting room. These are CLINICS. They aren’t doing surgery there, they are pretty much triage. They evaluate you, and if you are still treatable by them, they treat you. If they can not handle it, they refer you up the ladder. But again, you aren’t clogging the ER, and allow ER doctors to take time treating the truly sick.

          • Eyebrows McGee (now with double the baby!) says:

            @Buckaroo_GitEmSteveDave: And something like 95% of sick-child pediatric visits are six basic illnesses (strep, ear infection, stomach flu, etc.) easily diagnosed and treated by a nurse practitioner. Everything I’ve seen suggests these clinics are pretty effective at getting children properly treated and referred, and there’s no reason that model can’t work with adults as well (though sick-adult visits come from a wider range of issues).

            Honestly I wish we’d get a drugstore clinic around here. I’m totally clear on when I have a sinus infection (I get them at least three times a winter), and while my doctor’s good about prescribing over the phone if she’s seen me reasonably recently, I’d love to be able to go in for $20 on a weekend and get an Rx on a Saturday without having to go to urgent care or pay for an afterhours call with my doc. I don’t fault my doc for either of those things, but I clearly don’t need to be at urgent care and dealing with afterhours takes FOREVER and interrupts my doctor at home, which I hate.

            They could even do what the after-hours/weekend vet clinic does, which is take your info and send all the records to your regular vet as soon as the next business day starts, so I could go to a “simple care” clinic on a Saturday and know my doc would see the records Monday morning and they’d be in my file. Cut down on some of the alleged drug-seeking and diagnosis-seeking problems, even, and ensure more continuity of care.

            • Buckaroo_GitEmSteveDave says:

              @Eyebrows McGee: Don’t get me started on weekend/after hours vet clinics. There is one around the corner from me that was amazing when my cat got stepped on by a horse, and needed to be put down. But in two subsequent visits, they sickened me. In the first, my Momma-Bear, Ash-Lee, just had her 4 kittens and I brought her inside. People reccomend “free feeding” a queen, so she ate ~3 cans of wet food. Well, turns out you free feed DRY food. A few hours later she had labored breathing, so I brought her to the clinic. Visit was all well and good, but when I went to leave, they refused to bill me like they did the first time when I had my cat put to sleep. At 1:30am, they made me fill out a form and call a number to get apply for a “loan” from some bank, which I was declined for b/c I was just starting to get my credit back in line. They then made me give EVERY last dollar in my wallet over, then sign a promissory note that I would return within 24 hours to pay in full, or else.
              In the 2nd visit, one of my barn cats got attacked/bitten, and developed an abscess under her tail. They quoted me a price of 1,400 to amputate the tail, or 1,200 for treatment, which might require amputation. I started crying and said, “You’re going to have to put her down, b/c I can’t afford it”. The vet then suggested seeing my normal vet on Monday. Between the fees for the emergency vet and seeing my normal vet, her total treatment was ~$400, $800 cheaper than if I had stayed at the one place. My neighbors have brought their dogs to this place, and have similar stories of high initial prices, which then drop by over 50% if you balk and refuse treatment.

              I will NEVER go to this place again unless my animals life DEPENDS on it. They play on your love of your animals. And of course, they have a sucker in me:

    • pb5000 says:

      @IT-Chick: My area has a decent number of urgent care clinics where we have made great use of them for sudden weekend illnesses or the occasional head injury (I have two little boys, it’s more common than you’d think). When these things seem to happen outside of a doctors office hours the clinics are great, you are usually in and out and my insurance copay is $30 for them which is better than my $100 ER co-pay. Once we took the boy to one that we didn’t know was outside of our insurance network, so we were stuck paying cash for the visit, $80. Not bad still considering comparing to my ER co-pay, and for those with no insurance it’s a much better option than a huge ER bill to treat a minor injury that could be handled elsewhere.

    • AD8BC says:

      @IT-Chick: Looking back, I got sick a lot as a kid, and my mom would never take me to the doctor. And, sure enough, I would get over my illness and everything would be OK. I’ve had those sic basic illnesses and it’s amazing what most immune systems will take care of. I remember taking penicillin once in my life…. and it gave me the trots so bad I avoid antibiotics like the plague… the plague being one thing I probably would go to the doctor for….

  10. bohemian says:

    When I didn’t have insurance I ended up ordering my meds from Mexico without a script. The meds cost me $20. If I went through the system here it would have been $100 for the doctor visit just to write the script and another $100 for the meds. I had a friend in the same boat getting his meds from Singapore. People can complain about the risk factor all you want but when your out of work and have no insurance $200 might as well be $20,000.

    I have butterfly bandaged more than a few big cuts too. Unless it is on your face or bleeding profusely I am not spending the $$$$ to have a doc sew it up.

    • Ubik2501 says:

      @bohemian: Hell, I had a lamp break on my head and merely gauzed the gash until it stopped bleeding heavily, then kept large band-aids on it until it healed over. I have a big scar there, which means it probably should have been stitched up, but I seriously did not want to spend six hours and several hundred dollars in an ER for it. And I do have medical insurance through my employer, mind you.

  11. cmdrsass says:

    That’s the frontier spirit that made America great.

  12. menty666 says:

    Bah, encourage people to set their own bones, cut out their own gall bladders, etc. It frees up apartments for everyone else when they die.

  13. Syrenia says:

    I did set my own broken arm. Both bones in the lower arm. I was seven and figured that if I “fixed” it, I wouldn’t get into trouble for the stupid thing that I’d done to cause the break.

    Years later I found out just how lucky I was that I pushed the bones back into the right place. At the time I was blissfully unaware of the discussions that centered around re-breaking.

  14. tashiking says:

    *nods*
    I have been dealing with cancer from last year, no insurance, and most recently 3 broken bones in my foot.

    I am fortunate that I am entering Osteology and have access to an XRay machine and can reset my own bones. Is it fun? No. Is it practical- a lot of times no.
    But, no money [saving for wedding and paying off student loans] and no insurance can leave a person without a lot of options.

    • floraposte says:

      @Tashi King: If I were the intended, I’d insist that we do registry office and that you spend the wedding money on your health.

    • Anonymous says:

      @Tashi King:
      We got married at the courthouse – $50 ($25 for the license, $25 for the “ceremony”). 21 years later, it doesn’t matter to us or anyone else that we didn’t throw a big bash.

      Please take care of yourself. Weddings are fun, but you don’t need to have one to be married.

  15. kaycee says:

    I have a nephew who lives in a small, Midwestern town who had kidney stones when he was 19 years old and without insurance. As a result, he owes the hospital and the doctor around $17,000. He still suffers from kidney stones, is still uninsured, and they will no longer treat him for this because it’s not life-threatening. He periodically suffers terrible pain, nausea, and worse, but they won’t do anything about it. There are a lot of things people need medical care for that the ER can’t provide.

    I do believe there are better ways of handling medical care than the U.S. way. We’re always talking about Canada and the UK, but there are many other ways. I saw a couple of lengthy documentaries last year that left a real impression on me – “People Like Us: Social Class in America,” and “Is Inequality Making Us Sick?” I believe it was the latter one that gave a balanced, thoughtful outline of healthcare systems throughout the world – the pros and cons of each. I wish the President would move us in the direction of one of the better systems.

    • johnva says:

      @kaycee: There are systems in the world that spend under 5% of healthcare dollars on administrative overhead, while we spend like 32%+. Definitely we should study the rest of the developed world to find the best, most efficient solutions. Unfortunately, it seems that the “best” solution has nothing to do with what our politicians enact. They are wholly owned by the insurance lobbyists, so they don’t even want to consider any reform idea that even lessens the influence and obscene profits of private health insurers.

  16. concordia says:

    When I was a kid my dad always told me that there are two important rules when it comes to being an adult:

    1. Get a degree.

    2. Even if it’s not what you dream of doing, get a job that has good benefits.

    They’re good rules to live by, I’d say. :)

    • David Brodbeck says:

      @concordia: The sad thing is, #2 is a serious drain on the entrepreneurial spirit we claim to value in this country. People who would like to start their own business have to ask themselves if they can afford to be without good health insurance.

  17. Yoko Broke Up The Beatles says:

    Sorry, uninsured young adults – “Sicko” was made already; you missed out.

  18. Mary Marsala with Fries says:

    It’s their fault!

    They should make more money!

    People who don’t make enough money to pay whatever the insurance companies want to charge aren’t real people anyway and don’t deserve things like free hospital care anyway!

    Oh and homeless people, the chronically ill, the elderly and single parents should just die already and stop putting so much strain on the system! If they weren’t in the risk pool things would be so much cheaper!

    …There, did I cover it? I’m playing “spokesperson of the entitled” today…

    • johnva says:

      @Mary Marsala with Fries: You forgot to add that if you’re poor, sick, and uninsured it’s obviously because of your moral failing and failure to work hard like a good corporate drone. Wealth correlates directly with virtue.

  19. meske says:

    I just wish doctors and hospitals would charge the average off the street joe the same they would otherwise get from an insurance company. It’s amazing the billed vs. “negotiated amount.” For example, a 3 night hospital stay could be charged at $12K, but the insurance co. only pays $2,500. Don’t get me wrong, $2,500 is still a lot of money, but it’s reasonable depending on what services you consume in the hospital. As for doctors, we were recently charged $175 for a specialist visit. The insurance company would only pay $80. Almost $100 off the “list price” or the visit.

    If we all paid the negotiated rates, the need for everyday insurance might dissipate and people might not be bankrupt by healthcare.

    • edison234 says:

      @meske: I agree. The discount of services for health insurance companies are incredible. Why can’t I just negotiate directly with a hospital or a network of hospitals? Then the ‘middle man’ can be eliminated. If this were to happen, what is the value of a health insurance company?

      I would like the ability to purchase a plan that lasts X years for $X per month from my local hospital. I know that I could visit them and not have to worry about some procedure not being covered because I didn’t clear it with my insurance carrier. Sure that would get me the best coverage for my local hospital, but what about when something happens in another location? There can be many answers for that… Maybe the Fed can over the difference? Or a hospital can offer additional coverage for that situation? Some people really don’t travel enough to where that would be beneficial.

    • Buckaroo_GitEmSteveDave says:

      @meske: That’s why I say up front I have no insurance, and work out a payment w/my Dr. A LOT of times they would rather have the cash in their hands/bank account than fight w/an insurance company.

    • Eyebrows McGee (now with double the baby!) says:

      @meske: For some hospitals, if we all pay the negotiated rate, the hospital goes bankrupt. One of the problems with the system is that since insurance companies are for-profit and so large, they can strong-arm hospitals into accepting too-low rates. Hospitals often make up this difference by charging HIGHER rates to medicare and medicaid patients!

      Which isn’t to say there’s not a lot of problems with hospital pricing and with wasteful medical spending, but the negotiated rate isn’t the “true” rate either.

    • johnva says:

      @meske: In some cases, this is actually ILLEGAL. The doctors have to bill at a higher rate to get the insurance companies to pay a reasonable amount, and it’s sometimes considered “insurance fraud” for them to “bill” the insurers more than they would bill someone else. Yes, there are ways around this, but the insurers are the reason why the initial billed cost is so high.

      • Eyebrows McGee (now with double the baby!) says:

        @johnva: My husband’s working on a case where RICO charges actually got filed over a similar gaming of the system! The surgical clinic was “out of network” for a local major employer, so what they did was — well, I’ll give an example, it’s easier than explaining. Imagine they have a treatment that costs $7,500. If you’re in-network, insurer pays 90% ($6750), patient pays 10% ($750), netting the clinic $7500. Out-of-network, insurance pays 75% of your costs. So what they’d do was, bill for $10,000, so the insurer pays $7500 and the patient pays $2500 — and then never bill the patient for the co-pay. So they’d get the $7500, patients would get the “in-network” cost, AND they’d write off the “lost” $2500 in copays!

        I made up those numbers for easy math, but you get the idea. Reading the filings is pretty fascinating.

        • johnva says:

          @Eyebrows McGee: That’s a little bit different, though, if I understand you correctly – do you meant that they were billing at different rates for “in-network” vs. “out-of-network” patients? If so, yeah, that’s pretty much fraud.

          I was just saying that the reason why doctors have to bill the uninsured like 4x+ what the insurers actually generally pay them is because it would be insurance fraud not to due to the way that the insurance laws are written. Of course, because the differences between the “negotiated” and “billed” rates are so huge nowadays, this creates a pretty absurd and unjust situation where the people without insurance, who can least afford it, end up being billed the MOST for health care. They can often “negotiate” it downwards themselves, but I’ve often wondered how the law draws the line between a doctor “negotiating” charges with individual patients and insurance fraud. Does it have to be a pervasive pattern or something? Or is the difference just that the patient has to approach the doctor about getting the bill reduced?

          • David Brodbeck says:

            @johnva: I’m pretty sure the body shop industry works that way, too. I once got quoted $2,400 to repair a dented corner and a smashed tail light. I suspect they figured if the insurance company got the estimate they’d want to hack 50% off the top in negotiations, so they started high.

            The car was only worth $1500 and the guy who hit me had no insurance, so I ended up buying a used tail light for $80 and beating out the dent with a hammer.

            • johnva says:

              @David Brodbeck: I think this is probably the case in most any industry where a third-party payer with much more negotiating power than an individual pays. That I understand and don’t have a huge problem with. What I have a problem with is the application of this business model (for-profit insurance) to providing health care. It’s incredibly unjust for people who don’t have insurance to pay 4x more for the same health care, when the usual reason they don’t have insurance is because they can’t afford it or they have a job that doesn’t provide it to them (read: generally a low-paying job). The problem is not that the insurance companies do this: they are just doing the rational thing for a for-profit business in their position. The problem is that our society allows insurance companies to serve as the sole gatekeepers for affordable healthcare. Someone who has cancer doesn’t have the option of going the cheap route like you did with your car.

  20. TCTH says:

    It’s amazing how many commenters here miss the point entirely. We’re talking in large part about people who simply do not make enough money to afford health insurance… even if it’s available to what is rapidly becoming a predominately part time and itinerant work force.

    It’s all well and good to make smug remarks about people who set their own bones or self diagnose or self treat when you have the means to pay for the most basic needs in some form… but it’s a whole other picture when you’re only getting fifteen hours a week and nickels and dimes above minimum wage… IF you aren’t one of the hundreds of thousands who have been downsized, outsourced or “mergered” out of thir jobs in the last six months… and the cost of every OTHER basic necessity is totally out of control also.

    We tend to judge everyone in comparison to our own situations and to assign some arbitrary measure of “worth” to each person based on his/herposition on the food chain.

    Some of you need to remember that those people you look down on for not being able to afford this or get that can’t do so precisely so that YOU… perched on your comfortable little rung several positions above… can.

    • Buckaroo_GitEmSteveDave says:

      @TCTH: After getting downsized by BofA, I was un-employed for over a year. As I said above, I still managed to talk to my Dr.’s and worked out a payment that made both of us happy. It’s been over three years I have been w/o insurance, and I’m in pretty good health. I have made a hospital visit while un-insured, and as I said, I worked it out to where MOST parties involved were happy.

  21. AllanG54 says:

    There’s no such thing as a “free” clinic because if they’re not paying for treatment, you and I are.

    • David Brodbeck says:

      @AllanG54: One of the arguments for socialized health care is that we all end up paying, one way or another. If uninsured people go to emergency rooms and can’t pay, the hospital makes it up by charging more to everyone else. And emergency room care is generally more expensive than preventative care.

  22. h3llc4t, breaker of office dress codes says:

    I’m surprised no one else has mentioned how incredibly dangerous self-diagnosis is. Unless you have a medical background, sites like Webmd can be little more than fodder for paranoid and misguided treatment. I am incredibly leery of laymen diagnosing themselves, for their sake.

    • orlo says:

      @h3llc4t: Doctors aren’t that great either, since they are juggling several patients at once and only have a short time to recommend action for each patient. If the patient could order tests there is no reason to believe s/he couldn’t come up with a better diagnosis.

      • h3llc4t, breaker of office dress codes says:

        @orlo: Certainly, doctors are often pressed for time, particularly in free clinics. However, I’m not going to trust that Joe Schmoe knows to recognize the signs of a serious illness rearing its head. The patient might come up with a *better* diagnosis, but the situation wouldn’t improve much. It’s like an uninformed person trying to read a HijackThis log; without the background knowledge to understand what you’re looking at, it doesn’t make sense.

  23. Matthew Gay says:

    My wife and I get health insurance through her work, so it is a group plan, but because of the way she works (she’s a post doctoral fellow working off a grant) we get to see the entire bill (although some of it is paid for through her grant).

    We added it up, and realized, that our monthly health care cost is about $850/month. This is equal to our mortgage (not including the taxes and insurance)! Basically as a country, we’re almost to the point where health insurance is costing more than housing!

    Unlike some of the commentators who seem to think that the people interviewed in this article are low-life scum, I have a huge amount of sympathy for this group. Despite the fact that our household is really well educated we’re still just about broke due to the cost of insurance, and the only way around this would be to drop our coverage, which is clearly not a smart idea)

  24. Anonymous says:

    The problem with insurance is that it has become something it was never intended to be. Insurance was meant to cover “out of the ordinary” medical bills. We’ve bred a generation of people that think they don’t have to pay for medical services. It’s like car or home insurance. You don’t file a claim if you scratch your paint.

    I recommend finding a doctor that has gone back to a “pay per service” model. They are popping up everywhere. If you break an arm, you go to the doctor and it’s $50 – or whatever he charges. No insurance needed. Some even have a annual “membership” that cover you for these types of basic services.

  25. HogwartsAlum says:

    The insurance companies are Evil Evil Evil. They must be stopped.

    Our insurance company, which here is affiliated with one of the two large hospital systems, ended its relationship with an independent clinic that everyone went to and now we have to drive all the way across town to go to the hospital clinic. Where they don’t take a copay and send you a bill.

    AND…whenever the insurance company shortpays the hospital, they call you up and YOU have to call the insurance company and negotiate. I think that sucks. That shouldn’t be my freaking job.

    This particular hospital system got busted for sending out collection letters pretending to be a collection agency, when it was really them. Apparently, you can’t do that. I like the other hospital much better; unfortunately, our insurance doesn’t deal with them, so I can’t go there. I’m just lucky I found a great doctor within their system.

  26. Anonymous says:

    I’m surprised no one has mentioned the unemployed 24 year old they quote in the article as being on a 6 week snowboarding vacation, but “abandoned the idea [of buying health insurance] after being unable to find anything for less than $400 a month”

    Priorities?

  27. BMRFILE says:

    Yup. Land of the Free, yet we can’t afford to take care of our people in this country. We have insurance companies getting fatter by the minute, and then you have people who resrot to desparate measures to fix themselves via shadetree methods.

    When will the Congress wake up and start bitch-slapping insurance companies?

  28. Garbanzo says:

    I didn’t see any actual reporting in that story about anyone setting their own bones–just that it’s something that “they” do. As far as we can tell, the reporter heard about that from a friend whose cousin’s hairdresser had a customer whose boyfriend did it. Or something.

  29. AtomicPlayboy says:

    Key quote from article:

    In the parlance of the health care industry, Ms. Boyd, whose case remains unresolved, is among the “young invincibles” – people in their 20s who shun insurance either because their age makes them feel invulnerable or because expensive policies are out of reach.

    Here’s a short, concise treatment of the “young invincibles”, and the poor decisions they make about heath care coverage.
    Conclusion: let’s separate the irresponsible from the truly needy, and then concentrate on helping those who actually cannot afford health care.

    • Trai_Dep says:

      @AtomicPlayboy: That sentence bugged me as well, since it made it appear as though it was a conscious choice for the hundreds of thousands of 20s Manhattanites: choosing a pair of nice shoes over health insurance.
      If the expensive policies weren’t so laughably out of reach, they’d make a rational choice (or under universal health, they’d be enrolled automatically). Instead, they’re faced with whether they cut a check to their landlord or to an insurance company. Hmm, homeless vs uninsured… Hard call to make, hmm?

    • Trai_Dep says:

      @AtomicPlayboy: And, notice how the health care industry invents the term “young invincibles”, thus shifting blame from them to their victims, in our mind? Tricky, that.

  30. Savannah Kraemer says:

    A broken bone needs to be set by a doctor, not a friend or anyone else. When I broke my wrist, one bone jammed back into itself, the other bone chipped, and I had significant trauma to my ulnar nerve. I couldn’t feel the top of my hand or my ring finger for about 6 months after I got my cast off. I had to do months of physical therapy after that just to be able to turn my hand palm up. Without proper medical attention, I may as well have chopped off my left hand- it would be about as useful as a stump.
    No price is too steep when it comes to keeping your appendages working.

  31. forgottenpassword says:

    do you blame them? Its just insanely expensive if you are uninsured.

  32. MoebiusSK8 says:

    For cuts that are severe enough for stiches but no severe enough that you have things hanging outside your body super glue works well.

    I have done this on several occasions, and have lived through it.

  33. RogueWarrior says:

    Not to worry, the law offices of James Suck-a-Glove will find someone to sue on his behalf.

  34. corinthos says:

    I’ve gotten stitches from a Vet before. I slipped on ice during a bad snow storm and feel forward and tilted my head back and split my chin open. My friends GF was a vet and just came over and brought the stuff.

  35. Anonymous says:

    You don’t pay a fee when the police or the fire department come to your house. You don’t pay a fee to go into a park or a library. WHY DO WE HAVE TO PAY *ANYTHING* FOR HEALTH INSURANCE? Health Insurance should be a guaranteed right for all citizens. The United States is the only wealthy industrialized nation that does not provide this.

    I was one of those young people who didn’t have health insurance in my 20s and I thank god nothing happened to me – it was a big fear of mine at the time. Now I live in the UK and although the system is not perfect it is great knowing I can go to the doctor any time I’m concerned about my health. I was recently diagnosed with an illness that will require some long-term treatment and it is such a relief to not have to worry about how to pay for it on top of the stress of having an illness too.

    I read recently that citizens in the UK on average have a higher life expectancy than US citizens – regardless of income background etc. I am convinced that this comes down to the availability of medical and preventive care in the UK.

    We should have free healthcare. I would be happy to pay more in taxes to help make that available to all US citizens.

  36. shifuimam says:

    A good number of the uninsured, especially in places like New York, are freelancers recently out of college in jobs with no health benefits.

    Protip: Don’t live in the most unaffordable city in the damn country if you were stupid enough to pursue a degree in some field where freelancing is the norm.

    There’s this thing called cost-of-living that has to factor in to one’s budget, and I don’t pity anyone who (a) gets a degree for which there are few job options, (b) lives in a fantasy world where they think freelancing provides sustainable income, and (c) lives in a city where rent is four times what you’ll find in many other large metro areas in the United States.