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photo by Sheri Dixon

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Illegal Aliens are Breaking the Backs of America's Hospitals

Sorry. Let me amend that. It's not ONLY Illegal Aliens (of course for clarification, we need to have a tacit understanding that by "Illegal Aliens" I am talking about those shifty Mexicans who take the easy ride across our border for a life of pure joy picking our strawberries and manicuring our lawns).

Also to blame are those Crackheads and Welfare Mamas.

Here's the basic Myth, as forwarded ad nauseum throughout the interwebs-

*and it's a well-known fact that if an email is forwarded one million times it ceases being a mere puppet and becomes a REAL BOY...

Illegal Aliens are sucking our hospitals dry. They trip lightly across the Rio Grande, have the extreme selfishness to get caught up in some sort of agricultural implement and/or heavy construction equipment while supplying our citizens with food, roads and buildings, and then lie in a vegetative state racking up MILLIONS of dollars of bills- astronomical amounts that are then passed on to us hardworking Americans (always with a Capital A) in the form of higher health care costs.

In fact- while these lazy Mexicans are lie-about in our hospitals, Grandma and Grandpa can't afford their meds- because our country is too busy taking care of the Illegal Aliens. "Shush now", says our government, "Don't disturb this wonderful Mexican with your pain- go eat some cat food and be sick somewhere else".

Are hospital costs going up? Yes, of course. Costs are rising everywhere.
Are many hospitals on the verge of bankruptcy? Yes.
Is it the Illegal Aliens' fault? Ummm.....no.

Let me relay a little story.

Just by chance, both my husband and I had to undergo surgery within a month of each other about eight years ago.
We were both insured- but by different insurance companies.
We went to the same hospital for our procedures.

Here's how the charges played out, as shown on the bills that we received.
Because in our country, even if you have insurance and pay your premiums for years without incident, you must still shoulder your "fair share" of the bill.

Husband- Heart surgery. Hospitalized 10 days.
Total bill $100,000
Insurance paid $9,995
Our portion- payable upon receipt $1,314
Discount/write-off by hospital because patient was insured $88,691

Me- abdominal surgery. Hospitalized for 3 days.
Total bill $35,000
Insurance paid $9,995
Our portion- payable upon receipt $1,314
Discount/write-off by hospital because patient was insured $23,691

Really. No shit.

Our first thought was "Thank god we have insurance". And I didn't think much beyond that for a while. Because when you are personally in crisis, that's what you do- think only as far and as deep as you must.

But here's the thing.

The hospitals were paid $11,309 for each procedure. That's it.
My husband and I have been paying premiums of about $200 per month each for all our adult lives. I can't even pick up the calculator to see how that plays out. I'm pretty sure it's heavily stacked on the insurance company's side.

I understand, being a clinic manager myself, and being the one ordering supplies, paying the bills, and overseeing the billing amounts, that one important thing to remember when listening to whatever talking head is screaming about the ginormous bills being racked up by these poor (I mean evil) patients (usually lying in a comatose state without friends or family around to mess up the room and not really causing anyone any problems) is that

Bill amount does NOT = Cost

Read that again. So if we HEAR "Jose's bill totals 1.2 million dollars", the actual hospital cost, while still substantial, is NOT 1.2 million dollars.

But I also know full well that the salaries, overhead, equipment, drugs, etc. to perform the types of surgery my husband and I had cost well more than $11,309.

So, what gives?

What happens is, the insurance company comes to a hospital and says "We bring you a huge pool of patients. We will pay you $9,995 for any surgical procedure and you will be happy to get it because we wield enormous powers in high places. Good luck cutting corners to make it all work".

At the same time, they are telling the doctors "We bring you a huge pool of patients. Some of them will be unhappy with the outcome of your care, so we must charge you huge amounts of money for mal-practice insurance. Oh. And we'll only be paying you a smidgeon of your bill amount for all these patients. If you refuse to take it, you will lose alot of business because we are huge and powerful and pay for snazzy TV commercials telling people how much we care".

Meanwhile, back on the home front- the insurance company sends out letters to the insureds that say "Thank you for being an important member of our huge pool of patients. Unfortunately, because of the rising cost of health care, your premium must go up. Alot. Of course, this will only bring you better and better health care. As long as you never ask to use it. If you do that, we'll be doing our level best to find a way to regrettably deny that care".

Brilliant. If you are a fan of Dark Humor and Evil Genius.

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