Healthcare Options are Good for Everyone

A few weeks ago, I lost a small argument with a hand tool. It was no big deal. Four stitches later I was good to go, except for one problem: this happened on a Sunday. I bled. I cussed. Then wrapped in gauze I quickly surveyed my options.

Option #1 was to drive to the local walk-in clinic about three miles from home, or so I thought. Being Sunday and all, that clinic was closed. So I called around and learned that virtually every walk-in facility in my part of town likewise was closed. I finally found one open clinic way up north, outside city limits. The harried receptionist I spoke with advised me there would be an unspecified “substantial wait”, this on top of a 40-minute drive just to get there.

Option #2 was to visit the emergency room of the regional hospital just a few blocks from home and pay a much higher co-pay for the privilege, five times higher to be exact. Under the circumstances, I chose this option and was well cared for. Ka Ching.

Now I know what a few readers are probably thinking. “Don’t hurt yourself on a Sunday, dimwit.” Alright, maybe not. How about this? “See, the current healthcare system worked for you, didn’t it?”

Yes, I was fortunate to be able to pay a premium for better, more immediate care. It sure beat the heck out of bleeding in some remote waiting room wondering when my number would finally come up. But I couldn’t help feeling really, really bad for people who may not be so fortunate as to even consider Option #2. There they sit. Bleeding. Waiting.

“Don’t have a conscience, dimwit.” Fine, I have a conscience. On this given Sunday I’m a bleeding-hand liberal.

But here’s the deal. Some weeks after my visit, I receive a letter from my private insurer informing me that they are challenging their obligation to pay anything for my treatment. Furthermore, it is my obligation to certify to them that this was not a work injury, not automobile-related, not on someone else’s premises, etc.

I doubt they were very happy about me choosing Option #2. Why should they be? My visit to the emergency room probably did not tickle the right boxes in their actuary tables. Honestly, I wasn’t thrilled about either option but chose correctly under the circumstances.

Could a viable Option #3 – public or private – have made both me and my insurer happier? I gladly would have visited the local walk-in facility – public or private – if it had only been open on Sunday.

Healthcare options are good for everyone, not just the uninsured.

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