An Editor Seeks An Answer

In the last issue’s editorial entitled “A Little Too Laid Back,” I shared a mostly upbeat tale about busting my ankle stepping off a curb. I didn’t get into too much detail because, all in all, it’s not the most interesting thing in the world to do, right? 

Thing is, what happened the following week churned up many questions in me that I hope make some of you go, “Oh, I know why that happened! Let me hammer out an email for Berlin.” Or even, “This is ridiculous. Let me hammer out an email for Berlin.” Or perhaps, “Boring! I’m turning the page now.” Either way, I’m putting it out there.

When the lady at Spalding Regional Medical Center handed me a quote for the x-rays recommended to me by an urgent care place up the road (that didn’t have an on-site radiologist that day), the quote was something around $1,100. Jeez! Because I don’t have insurance, however, there was an adjustment made, a discount of $800 or so, meaning I’d “only” owe $300 for the job. I hobbled back to the car on crutches and sat there, staring at the discount and growing angrier by the second. 

“You mean to tell me that if I were an insurance company, I’d get slapped with a gigantic bill for something the hospital can charge a few hundred bucks for?” I asked my wife, who was equally baffled and irritated that we’d waited that long for this crappy news. Did I need the x-rays? Damn right I did! I wanted to know what was wrong with my foot. Do I continue to rest it or do I need a cast, and how long should I tell my boss I’ll be laid up? 

We hauled ass back to the urgent care place (where we’d just dropped $200 and two hours of waiting for a goofy foot-squeeze and referral to the hospital radiologist), and they sent me to a cheaper imaging place. Another $100 and another two-hour wait later, I had some x-rays done. Long story boring, it’s a really bad sprain.

Here’s the thing: Insurance is prohibitively expensive for lots of us hard-working Americans. My job might seem glamorous on paper, and don’t get me wrong: It’s the absolute shit. But I’m still very much a blue-collar worker who can’t afford to pay my monthly obligations (bills, food, animal care, car insurance, etc.) and fork over the insane amount it takes to cover what medical whoopsies might happen here and there. So … would that have anything to do with the fact that medical providers gouge the bloody hell out of insurance companies over something they could charge a fraction of the price for, while still making money? How does a bill go from $1,100 to $300 with the embarrassed whisper of, “I don’t have insurance”? 

I’m the type who tries to figure out where to steer my frustrations before I actually do so. I never want to get upset with someone, be it a person or an institution, before I know I’m legitimized. So before I go off, does anyone out there know why this may be? I’m reaching out to any medical-billing or insurance-minded folks who might know the answer. Perhaps this would make an insanely important story.

At any rate, I’ll be better soon. I count that blessing. In the meantime, my email is up there. Send me your thoughts and let’s get this party started.

Cheers from your bedridden buddy at Georgia Voice,