Friday, February 26, 2010

Nothing to Smile About

Y’all ever heard of the movie Smile Pinki? It’s a documentary about kids in poor countries that are born with cleft palate. What a horrific affliction. These kids are often shunned by family members, destined to live a life of shame. GAWD…I watched that movie and thought how fucked up life can be sometimes. But there’s a group called the Smile Train that travels the world in search of kids with cleft palate in an attempt to get them the vital operation they need. It’s a simple procedure and it only costs $250. That’s a great deal considering what the alternative is. Flash forward to yesterday…

In an attempt to draw attention to the plight of Nevada families against rising healthcare costs, Senator Harry Reid told the story of the Jesus Gutierrez family at yesterday's healthcare summit. Gutierrez is the owner of Fresh Mex Restaurant here in the RNO. His daughter was born with a cleft palate and his insurance company decided not to cover the cost of the needed surgery. The result? The Gutierrez family had to pay…wait for it…wait for it…$90,000 for the surgery!!! Aye caramba!!! That’s TWENTY-SIX THOUSAND percent over what the Smile Train people need to fix cleft palates in other countries.

Here’s the crux of the biscuit…cleft palate surgery in India, or Mexico, or Nigeria costs $250. In the United States of America, Inc. it costs $90,000. From the pharmaceutical companies to the hospitals from the doctors to the insurance companies, someone…every step of the way is sucking profit from the health woes of Americans. Now, rich Americans can probably afford to pay that much but what about middle-class America? Nope. Heck-fire, you know the poor can’t afford that kind of scratch.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that this is no way for a Christian nation to behave toward its citizens. But then again, The United States of America, Inc. isn’t really a Christian nation. We just say we are and hope nobody notices. Fuckin’-A…JZeus must be spinning in His grave.



David Allen said...

As usual - you're very selective about which facts you use and which ones you conveniently leave out. Medical procedures are much lower in countries like India, Mexico or Thailand because their governments haven't intervened to make health care more "affordable". True story – I was looking at how much it would be to get a crown for one of my molars and was told it would cost $2000 to do, only half of which would be covered by my insurance at the time. In Thailand – that same procedure is about $250. Why is that?

Back in the old days - insurance if used at all covered major hospital expenses and surgeries. If you were to walk into a Doctor's office for a routine visit you would pay cash. Because collecting cash was much cheaper and easier for Doctors, your typical office visit was pretty cheap - about $20 or $30 per visit. Fast forward to now - and we have the horrible invention of Ted Kennedy called HMO's where we have insurance coverage of routine and trivial visits as well as the expensive ones along with prescription drugs. Since the money isn't directly coming directly out of your pocket - nobody blinks twice about expensive tests and procedures and over-prescribed meds. So while nobody care's how much anything costs anymore, naturally prices will rise. Add to that culture a bunch of soul-less ambulance chasers who'll file lawsuits if doctors don't run every single test however trivial to cover their asses and a population of illegal immigrants that doctors and hospitals are mandated to treat regardless of ability to pay and you have the system we have now with insured people paying the difference for those who are not – and massive inflation of costs.

Neither India, Mexico nor Nigeria have those types of mandates. If you can't pay - you don't see a doctor. (or you wait until the Americans come by to treat you for free).

Nobody's advocating that the alleged "poor" in this country (that's the same poor people with 2 cars, 4 TV's with cable, internet and an X-box) should not be treated. If you really want patient costs to be under control we should be looking at less government involvement and paying cash for routine visits, and only carrying coverage for major illness and injuries. Getting lawyers and excessive litigation out wouldn't hurt either. After that’s taken care of we can work out a way to compensate Doctors and Hospitals for providing care for those who can’t pay.

David Allen said...

BTW - there's a great op-ed piece in the Boston Herald published today on titled "Why Obama won't mention RomneyCare" It outlines very well how socialized medicine is bankrupting Massachusetts despite all the claims how it would lower costs.