This afternoon as i was trying to pass some time at work i scanned the news page and noticed that Obama's health care bill was passed in the US. I'm not going to pretend i know too much about the bill, but from an Aussie perspective it seems like a big step in the right direction. (Nor do i know too much about the Canadian system either).
I have bad kidneys, and last August while we were in the US on our honeymoon i ended up in hospital. St Vincents in Manhattan was my home for a bit during that trip. Before we had left we had taken out traveller's medical insurance. Even though I knew that the insurance was a must, i never expected to actually need it - i was picturing people avoiding million dollar bills for being air lifted off a moutain in the middle of nowhere. The first shock i got was when my husband called the reception of our hotel in New York, and asked their opinion on how to find a doctor. They said they would send the hotel doctor to our room within the hour. She was the most lovely lady who dumped out her supplies onto the bed from her Louis Vuitton carry bag. She sat with me for 10 minutes, gave me 1 injection and then passed over the $700 bill. Husband had to run to the teller machine for the cash there and then (fair enough, we were international travellers).
Over the next couple of days she visited me 2 more times at the hotel ($750) before arranging for me to get into a medical imaging appointment ($950) and then when that failed she sent a taxi ($20) to take me to St Vincents. While in St Vincents ($2400) i had some great doctors who kept saying to me that if i was to stay in the US and have them treat me surgically it would cost many more thousands, and that i was much better off to get home to Australia and seek treatment. The insurance company also had to re-book our flights back to LA ($450) and put Husband up in a hotel while i was in hospital ($550). They eventually doped me up on Oxycondone ($50) and gave the airline clearance to fly me home where i sought the treatment i needed.
This exact same process of doctor appointments, medical imaging and hospitalisation has happened at home quite a few times over the years and the total amount i have paid is $0. I won't forget the doctor's who were treating me and kept saying they hoped the Obama health reforms would be approved, so today i am thinking of them and hoping they are smiling.