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Four Weeks Of Health Care

As a new father with two little baby girls who have now spent just over four weeks in the hospital, I have really begun to appreciate our health insurance for the first time. We just recently got the hospital bill for Janet’s delivery, and it’s around $35,000. Evidently the doctors’ bills will come separately, and we also haven’t seen the bill for the ambulance ride yet. When you add in all of Janet’s pregnancy related doctor visit expenses, it’s something like $60,000.

This got me curious about what the care for the girls is costing. We haven’t seen any bills for the girls yet, so we don’t know for sure. I’ve queried a few of the nurses, and they say they don’t really know either, but they made some educated guesses that it probably started out around $10,000 per day (although it might be higher) and by now maybe it’s around $5,000 per day… EACH. So, a wild estimation is that the girls’ medical expenses have reached around $500,000 so far.

Holy high cost of health care, Batman!

That’s more than our house cost, and we bought it when houses were expensive! It’s a bit staggering, really. Half a million dollars in four weeks — poof! In truth though, I’m not overly concerned about these bills, because we do have health insurance. We’ll be fine. And frankly, the insurance company will be fine too. They’ll make plenty of money off us over the course of our lives.

But all this does make me think quite a bit about where the country is headed in the future if President Obama’s plans come to fruition. I recently read a chilling article titled Death Of U.S. Health Care by political analyst Dick Morris. It’s worth reading in full, but the bottom line is that the only way Obama’s plan to revamp the health care system can work is by severely rationing health care the way Canada has done, and that’s a disaster. For example, the Canadian government will not allow health providers to use the best (most expensive) drugs for cancer treatments, so Canada’s cancer death rate is significantly higher than in the US. They also won’t allow private payments for better treatment, because apparently that would undermine the system (ie, it would highlight the complete inadequacy of the system). This is why so many Canadians flock to the United States and pay out of pocket to take advantage of our health care.

But at Obama’s urging, our own health care system is clearly moving in that same direction. It’s already happening — health providers have already committed to 1) cut the use of MRIs and CAT scans, 2) reduce the use of antibiotics, 3) perform fewer C-sections, and 4) cut care for management of chronic back pain. Do those sound like things that are done frivolously? I suppose cutting back on antibiotics might arguably be a good idea, because I do have some concerns about creating drug resistant bacteria. But I’m pretty certain that if you talk to anyone who has ever had an MRI, CAT scan, C-section, or chronic back bain, they’ll probably tell you that the treatment they received wasn’t frivolous; it was necessary. (Janet thinks maybe there are some unnecessary C-sections, too.) But here’s the main point: who in their right mind wants a government bureaucracy deciding what health care you’re allowed to get? When has any government bureaucracy ever done a really good job? In a more recent article titled Here Comes Health Care Rationing, Morris points out that by making cuts in these four areas, they plan to save about $1.7 trillion over the next 10 years. Unfortunately, the total health care spending in the United States over the next 10 years will probably be about $30 trillion. So although $1.7 trillion sounds like a lot of money, it’s really just a drop in the bucket. They’re going to cut a LOT more, and in Morris’ words, “These decisions will not be medical but financial.” Yikes.

What would happen to our girls under Obama’s plan? Would they get the care they need? I’m not sure, but I suppose their prospects would probably be better than mine would be when I eventually need care. I do know that the girls are not coming home for at least another week or two, so the cost will continue to accumulate. We’ve heard the nurses say that it’s common for babies to go home around the same time as their due date — and that’s still another 4 weeks away! As Janet mentioned in a previous post, they need to go for five consecutive days with no bradycardia episodes. Right now, that’s still happening almost every day, but they’re supposed to just grow out of it eventually. In all other respects, they’re doing just fine.

When we do finally get some solid information about the costs associated with the girls, I’ll probably post an update. In the meantime, it seems to me that our current health care system is working well enough.

2 comments to Four Weeks Of Health Care

  • Todd

    Last year Jen had a kidney stone procedure that cost $36,000 for a 20 minute procedure and about a total of 3 hours of care. How do we fix this? I don’t know but I sure don’t want to let the Government control it. I’m sure it would turn out as well as Social Security.

  • troy

    Nice summary Dan. I’ll have to read the article.

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