Saturday, March 19, 2005

This new bankruptcy law sounded good to me at first. I knew people who started businesses, failed, declared bankruptcy, started a new business, failed, declared bankruptcy again and started another business that would fail. But some stats reported on the Bring it On blog are astounding.

Almost 55% of bankruptcies were filed by folks who had huge medical bills.

Back when Clinton proposed his Health Care plan, I was against it. I had a nice job with a Fortune 500 company with great medical benefits. I opposed it because I was afraid that if it passed, my benefits would be cut to the minimums set forth in the plan. I thought the alternative Medical savings plan proposed by the Republicans would be a better idea.

Then I began to hate my job. I quit, moved back home, and took a job with a small business.

When I was hired, the owner told me that as soon as they computerized the business, they would start looking at getting health insurance. Well, they computerized the business. Three or four years later, after my boss' spouse retired, they got a retirement plan for the full time employees. Here it is, five years later, and still no health plan.

Back in 2001, I got sick. Really sick. I was taken to the hospital by ambulance. It cost $700 to get the three guys into the ambulance for the one block drive to the office. They each wore gloves that cost $5 a pair. They ran several tests for heart disease, understandable under the circumstances. The ride to the hospital cost me $1500.

I spent 19 days in the hospital, including two days in ICU, and ten in isolation because they were afraid I had TB. My hospital bill was $50,000.

When the State of Texas Health Department was informed that I might, just might, have TB, they wanted everyone I had been in contact with for the previous two weeks to take a TB test. My cousins had been down for golf, so my Midland cousin went to his Health Department and got his. My cousin in Virginia had to pay for his. My boss, when informed that all the employees would have to take the test, asked, "Who's paying for it?" When he was told the state was picking up the tab, he agreed to have test himself.

I wound up applying for Indigent Care, which forgave my hospital bill, but not my ambulance ride. I had to get a loan to pay that off. (My mom does medical transcription, and one of her surgeon clients apparently did the surgery for free. Thanks, Doc!)

My argument against National Health Care now seems foolish. Since my employer won't consider adding health insurance to my benefits, I now know that this country needs a health plan.

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