This Space for Rent

It’s the best healthcare system in the whole wide world!

... as long as you don't get sick and require immediate attention, that is.

Emergency medical care in the United States is on the verge of collapse, with the nation's declining number of emergency rooms dangerously overcrowded and often unable to provide the expertise needed to treat seriously ill people in a safe and efficient manner.

(The Washington Post, via Suburban Guerrilla)

In the past few years, our family has spent more time than we care to think about going to various emergency rooms around Portland. With one exception (I am susceptable to labyrithitis, and the first time I got it I ended up getting so dizzy I collapsed, puking, on the floor and the best called 911 when I couldn't get up. Emergency rooms are really fast when the ambulance crew wheels someone in on a stretcher) each trip ended up with us cooling our heels in the emergency room for hours before the doctors would deal with the intussusception, burned hands, split chin, or mysterious dizziness and numbness which could have been (but fortunately was not) a stroke. And in the case of the intussusception, we actually had to leave the hospital ER and go to our regular doctor who said "yup, intussusception" and got us an appointment in the intestinal X-ray unit of one of the local hospitals, where, for only US$3000, they pumped the bear full of marker to find and untelescope the blockage. And for each of these emergency room visits (including the one we ended up walking out on so we could go see our regular doctor instead) we got charged at least US$500 for "emergency room services", which then mysteriously became "out of network" visits, which was sort of bizarre because they were Providence hospitals and we had Providence insurance.

And we have money, and could pay for all of this. But not enough money to get into the goddamn medical boutiques that the best healthcare system in the whole wide world™ is now offering to people who are willing to spend US$40,000/year for their health insurance.

Now, if we lived in the formerly communist bloc country to the north, this wouldn't happen because the government (still, but Mini-Me will soon put an end to THAT embarrassment) pays for healthcare, so you don't have a large chunk of the population stuck with having to go to the ER for any sort of illness. Sure, there'd be a waiting list for nosejobs, but for the things that might actually kill you you won't have to wait in line behind terrified and exhausted parents who couldn't afford a doctor's visit and have brought their now-deathly-ill children in to see what's wrong with them.

And they pay 10% of their GDP on healthcare! And the average Canadian lifespan is only 1 year better than the average US lifespan. And they've got first-world child mortality rates instead of our third-world child mortality rates.

But there's a waiting list for nosejobs! And that's the most important thing about healthcare.