A trip to the hospital has a way of clarifying the problems in our health care.
I DON’T BELIEVE I EVER WROTE an article about medical care. Now I will, mainly because my own health became an issue overnight. First I’ll say something about that, then I’ll take a quick look at the new health care law.
Early one morning, still in bed, I knew I had to go to the bathroom—quickly. But it turned out to be blood, and a lot of it. Then more of the same about an hour later. Then still more. I called 911 and was taken to the emergency room of a nearby hospital. More bleeding and I was admitted, although that took hours. Then more problems, including fainting when I went to the bathroom. At that point I was put into the intensive care unit, and I stayed there for two and a half days.
I don’t want to identify the hospital, but I was well taken care of. I have no complaints. But intensive care is not something that I can recommend. You are hooked up to gadgets that ring and ding more or less whenever you move. So sleep, indeed rest of any kind, is hard to come by. At least I was alone in the room and I didn’t have to listen to someone else’s television or snoring. My wife brought me a couple of C.S. Lewis books from home. A visiting doctor saw them and immediately said that The Great Divorce was his favorite Lewis book. I was impressed by that.
I began to see how much the trial lawyers have added to the cost of medicine. Everything is double and triple checked. But nothing in the tort law department is likely to change any time soon. Charles Kraut hammer has commented on this but liberal columnists and editorial writers generally ignore it. “The trial lawyers own the Democratic Party,” Krauthammer said.
It turned out that I had diverticulosis (not “-itis”), characterized by “pockets” in the colon wall. Sometimes you get one near a vein, which is why I had a good deal more bleeding than is normal. They gave me a colonoscopy—unpleasant because of the jugs of fluid you have to drink beforehand. But I was drugged and was hardly aware of the actual operation. I’m glad to say that nothing more serious was found.
I felt weak and tottery when my wife picked me up and drove me home. I slowly recovered—then I received the hospital bill. It was over $53,000. The bill said “for information only,” and I hasten to add that I do have Medicare. My wife, who knows much more about these things than I do, says she thinks that Medicare will cover most of it. Most? Not all?I’ll find out in due course.
NOW FOR THIS LITTLE DETAIL: As far as I know, except for a few brief intervals, I had no medical coverage for 35 years, between the ages of 30 and 65. As they say, I “got lucky.” I never had to go to the hospital in that time, except once, briefly, and on that occasion the doctor’s office that I had visited had to pay, for reasons too complicated to explain. I have also been fortunate enough to see doctors only rarely.
According to recent estimates, about 50 million U.S. residents lack medical insurance. Some put the figure higher. The number is often used without qualification to urge the nation to enact reform. But according to Carpe Diem, a blog by Mark J. Perry, an economist with the University of Michigan and a visiting scholar at AEI, surveys show that about 18 million of those uninsured had incomes over $50,000. Most of them could afford basic health insurance. In Michigan, Perry said, people aged 18 to 30 could get insurance through Blue Cross starting at about $50 per month—about the cost of a basic cell phone plan. Individuals under 65 could get coverage for $138 per month—comparable to a cable TV and Internet bill. Perry added this:
Since most households making $50,000 or more can afford multiple cell phones and cable TV, it would seem like they could also afford basic health insurance, and choose not to buy it. If they say they can’t afford health insurance, they should consider canceling their cell phones and/ or their cable TV service. If they choose cell phones and cable TV over health insurance, that’s a voluntary choice.
That was in 2009, so the numbers may have changed since then. But it’s certain that the uninsured include many who are voluntarily so. About 56 percent of the uninsured are under 35. The young often make a rational calculation that they don’t need health insurance because most young people in this country enjoy good health. That was my own reasoning.
As to the Affordable Care Act, otherwise called Obamacare, most of us know by now that the new law obliges us to have insurance. Those who refuse will be penalized. According to the Supreme Court’s recent controversial ruling, that penalty is a tax, which renders the law constitutional. Citizens will now be “taxed” if they don’t have health insurance by 2014.
The reason for this, of course, is to make premiums of younger people subsidize the growing ranks of the insured, particularly those with “pre-existing conditions,” who will now be covered.
Here’s Mark Perry again, this time in 2010:
The federal government wants to require young, healthy people to buy insurance because if they don’t, premiums for everyone else will go up. Insurance companies need low-maintenance, young customers on their rolls so they can raise money to cover benefits for lesshealthy people the health care bill will require them to insure.
Inevitably, this mandate will be shot through with exemptions. Native Americans and undocumented immigrants are already exempt, and more exclusions will no doubt follow. Congress is good at this kind of thing—passing laws with “afterthought” loopholes.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?
H/T to National Review Online