Today I had to take my son for his 15 month well visit. All day in the car as I listened to NPR, universal healthcare was the topic. Little did I know I would get a reminder of the problems with our system up close and personal today.
At the doctor’s, my son developed a strong fever. It turns out this was due to a new ear infection. Great. His shots would have to be delayed another few weeks and we’d have to give him a course of antibiotics. All of this would be handled well by my insurance. The full course, between generic substitutions in pharmacy and our family’s insurance coverage, would run me $12. No sweat. With a $15 copay my running total so far was $27.
But there was a problem.
My wife was concerned with the wheezing she still hears in my son’s breathing at night. My doctor was as well. She prescribed a 30 day supply of Pulmicort, an asthma treatment medicine. Since there are no generic substitutes, I have to pay full boat with my plan reimbursing me for 60% of the cost. And that cost? $365!
Now I don’t know about you, but how is a person with few means supposed to shelve out that kind of money on a monthly basis to treat their child? First you have to have the cash on hand or the credit to shell out what amounts to a car payment. Second, you’d have to be able to afford the 40%, or $146, you’d be responsible for if you have insurance. What happens if you are one of the 47,000,000 people who don’t? What’s wrong with this picture?
Truly, when I think of folks defending our healthcare system, esp. with regard to the pharma companies, I find it hard not to think of the phrase “full of shit.”
UPDATE: I can’t really take credit for the title, it was from a teacher and mentor who corrected me when I mentioned that the UK’s universal healthcare system was socialized medicine. She said, “No, it’s civilized medicine.”