How I blew a year’s tuition money in two days: While I wish I had some grandiose tale of extravagant adventures, the truth is rather uneventful. If you’re looking for the quickest way to go broke in the United States, look no further than the doors of the emergency room. Hospital visits these days have become a feared occurrence for the prospect of bills they will bring. God forbid, you’re uninsured. My bill? $16,704.
Having struggled with my health for the past two or so years, I’ve been to just about every kind of doctor, specialist, spirit healer, and wizard out there. Yet nothing could prepare me for this monstrosity of a bill I have to deal with now that I’m a real adult and bills are actually addressed in my name. Once I processed what an absurd amount of money that was, I began to realize just how absurd an amount of money it was. I’ll spare you the details of my personal life but to put things in perspective, a day in the emergency room plus two nights in the Cardiac Intensive Care Unit apparently equates to $17,000. While I understand CAT scans, EKGs, ultrasounds and the administering of medications require expensive medical equipment and resources, I find it impossible to rationalize the need to capitalize so greatly on every individual that they are used to treating.
The debate over appropriate health care in the United States has long been on the dinner table for discussion, yet while politicians have been busy devising a practical approach, millions of Americans have been busy wasting away in hospital beds across the country, waiting for some underqualified nurse to bring them a $50 bologna sandwich and $25 cup of sugar-free jello. Economists point fingers at the insurance companies. Politicians will label the absence of a structured healthcare reform as the culprit. Yes, both of these weigh heavily on the issue but the way I see it, our country’s approach to medicine itself is to blame. Walk into the doctor’s office and you’ll experience first-hand what I’m referring to. Check in, spend 25 minutes waiting in the lobby, two minutes getting your vitals checked, and another 20 minutes fidgeting around on a wax paper sheet waiting for the doctor to come in. By the time the doctor finally enters, he or she examines you for a total of 5-10 minutes, writes you a prescription and sends you on your merry way.
Early detection of life-threatening conditions could be improved if doctors would actually take the time to thoroughly examine their patients rather than simply trying to get through as many people as possible in one day while racking up all their copays. I don’t mean to discredit the expertise of medical doctors as I myself am on the treacherous path to pursuing what is quite possibly the world’s most respected and equally despised profession. However, what I simply cannot seem to comprehend is the blatant exploitation of the American patient. Preventive medicine is portrayed as paranoia and more often than not, patients must wait until the last minute for a cure rather than preventing the problem altogether. Now I’m not suggesting that the government has created a conspiracy to breed sick Americans and then profit on their treatment, though it is possible. Rather, that our unalienable right to life has been compromised by the infusion of capitalist motives into the healthcare system.
It’s common knowledge that doctors are some of the wealthiest laborers but prior to my recent experience, I had never questioned whether this was rightfully so. It almost seems intuitive to reward those entrusted with our lives more than others, but at whose expense? Here arises the question of morality. When does it become acceptable to take so much money from the sick and even the dying? Perhaps the kindhearted will say never, and this is reflected in the many charities that exist to aid with such medical bills. Others will justify by claiming it to just be the capitalist nature in which we live. Exploitation is inevitable in this country and as tough a pill to swallow as that may be, it’s a truth that must be accepted. Tolerance, however, leaves little room for reform. As for myself, I refuse to stand idly by as the costs of healthcare continue to spiral out of control. Perhaps I’ll finish up school, get my doctoral degree and seek sweet revenge on some unsuspecting college student, crushing her dreams of getting a new car at the end of her sophomore year. Or I’ll aspire to change the face of medicine in my own little way, pushing for more preventive medicine across the nation. Until then, I’m stuck paying off my first real bill the poor college kid way—one dollar at a time.
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