This Space for Rent

The joys of the American Healthcare System, pt 4 – the bills just keep on coming

One of the things I thought would get better when -- after ~2.5 years of unemployment courtesy of the magnificent B*sh economy -- I got a job was the state of my healthcare. The first straw of doubt came when I looked at the healthplans that my v. large corporate masters offered, and realized that the choice was either (a) Kaiser or (b) large deductables for the chance of keeping our family doctor. The second straw of doubt came when I discovered that the $30 copays and ~$15/$25 "we're not going to pay this, so you get to eat it" charges per doctos visit didn't count against the deductable. The latest straw (which will probably result in my yanking the healthplan and going to Kaiser [this is by far the worst choice; my preferred choice, which involves a Vancouver BC address, kissing the ground when we clear customs, and a ceremonial shredding of US Passports after taking the oaths to become Canadian citizens, requires a unanimous vote of the Chateau Chaos electorate, and so far the last few votes are proving to be an elusive target) resulted from an emergency room visit and a subsequent MRI appointment. These things, as you can imagine, are very expensive, and there are approximately 1000 doctors, specialists, technicians, and mechanics who need to get their goddamn pound of flesh once you're stupid enough to go along with your primary care physician's suggestion of "well, I don't know what's wrong with you, so you'd better have <hideously expensive boutique machine> take a look at you" (and, naturally, it found nothing aside from an insufficiently empty bank account.)

The billing for this round of tests is somewhat like clowns popping out of a circus car, and it was about the fourth or fifth round of bills when I finally started adding things up and realized that I'm ending up paying approximately $2200 of my $1025 deductable for this round of increasingly expensive tests that have proven nothing aside from me being perfectly healthy aside from high blood pressure that's probably due to stress. About the only effect my stupid health insurance appears to be having is that the various clinics that own these big expensive brain-scanning machines will knock thousands of dollars off their regular "you don't have insurance? Boy, it sucks to be you!" bills, leaving me with, um, thousands of dollars of bill that the insurance company feed through their "You expected to have your insurance company pay for this procedure?" payment rejection scheme.

The best part, so far, was going into a local branch of the hospital that is actually providing the health insurance to the insurance policy wholesaler that sells it to my corporate masters for a procedure which is then billed as "out of network", because that hospital is apparently not part of the health insurance network that that hospital has set up.

I'm just waiting for the time when something actually goes wrong; I figure the $1025 deductable will actually kick in about the time that we've relocated from (what used to be before the court seized it for hospital bills and court costs) our house into more spacious, but unheated and drafty, quarters under the I-5 bridge.