News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Opinion Columns

November 19, 2013

RONN MOTT: Too Much

I’ve been very fortunate, so far, in my lifetime. I’ve not been hit with any major disease that could, ultimately, kill me. I’ve only been under the knife twice and neither operation was life threatening … tonsils and a kidney stone too large to extract in a normal way. I suppose in that regard, I am fortunate. So I was a little surprised of what appeared to be the wrath of a writer in a response to something I had written, which included such a slam on my stand on American health care.

Every time somebody wants to be against governmental assistance, in some form or another, they always blame freeloaders and those who are in the country illegally receiving free benefits. It seems to me these are general terms and not specifics. We have safeguards in every system that gives aid to people and the safeguards are there all the time. The facts of the matter are simple from a doctor’s visit to a long-term stay in hospital. It costs too much in America.

This is not one man’s opinion … I’m writing it because those of a political stripe different than mine cry “socialism” and America runs from all of it. We pay the highest price for our health care and by most standards of judgment, in regards to health care, ours is not the best.

A case in point happened to me last summer. I began to have abdominal pains seemingly out of nowhere and the pain would not subside. It was in an area where I had never had a pain before. I had had kidney stones before and the pain was in my back, so the wife took me to the ER at a local hospital. I gave the girl at the desk a description of what was wrong and my insurance card and they moved me back to a room while most were attending to a lady in a car and the need to get her into the ER.

The nurse took my temperature, my blood pressure, asked where the pain was and said the doctor would be with me in a moment. And, sure enough, he was. He touched the part of my abdomen where I had pain, asked me how it felt, and the pain didn’t change with the pressure of his hand. He said they would probably have to run tests to determine what was wrong.  

The doctor left, promised to return, and I told the nurse I needed to go to the bathroom and I did. In the bathroom, I urinated and out popped a kidney stone (and having had them before, I knew exactly what it was). The pain then stopped as abruptly as it had begun. I started to get out of my backless gown (who invented these damn things?). By the time the doctor returned I was mostly dressed and I showed him the kidney stone. He said it was a large one and since the pain had stopped, it was obvious what was wrong.

My wife, who had driven me there, drove me home. The amount of time spent in the emergency room was less than an hour and I gave it no more thought.

When I received an invoice from the hospital regarding my emergency room visit, I was shocked. The cost of this to my insurance company was $2,000.

There were no shots of medicine, no shots for pain, no X-rays or other tests. A simple act of urination in the bathroom cleared up the pain and told me what was wrong. The cost of meeting a new doctor and nurse cost my insurance $2,000.

I have never run an audit on a hospital and I’m not really sure how these things work, but for no more time than I was there, no more assistance than I received or needed, it seems to me it was too, too expensive. All that money for a sit-up space on a gurney and the use of one of those insane gowns. How much would it have been if I had been knifed or shot or hurt seriously in a car accident?

I mean, it just seemed to me to be terribly expensive for that one hour of pain on a Sunday afternoon.

Ronn Mott, a longtime radio personality in Terre Haute, writes commentaries for the Tribune-Star. His pieces are published online Tuesday and Thursday on Tribstar.com, and in the print and online editions on Saturday.

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