Health Care In Atlanta: The World’s Most Expensive Moth

Saturday evening, I was sitting in my big comfy leather chair watching the Atlanta Falcons lose their first pre-season game. At about 10:30 a small moth flew into my right ear. I reached up to brush it away. Instead of leaving the vicinity, the bug walked into my ear canal and kept right on walking. He stopped when he got to my eardrum. Then he started flapping his wings.

Trust me when I tell you that it’s a very strange sensation.

We (my wife and I) tried tweezers. We tried flushing it out with water. But when nothing at home worked for extricating the little pest, we headed for the local hospital emergency room.

We arrived at 11:30. Check-in was a breeze. Within 15 minutes we had been checked in and triaged. We told them we were self-pay, since we have a high deductible. Then the waiting began.

At 4:00 am Sunday morning, we were ushered into an emergency room exam room. The doctor removed the bug quickly and by 4:15 we were walking toward the business office for discharge.

The nice lady in the business office calculated our bill. It was $402.00. She told us that if we paid right then, they offered us a 50% discount on the bill. We stroked them a check on the spot.

Half off for cash! What does that tell you?

It tells me that the hospitals are billing the insurance companies for 200% of their costs. It also tells me that the hospitals know they’ll get stiffed by the insurers. I also suspect that my hospital bill was paying for some of the more ethnic folks that were also in the E-room while I was there.

I’m not beating the drum for single-payer health care. I’m just offering an example of how broken the medical services delivery system is in America. I’m not saying that the hospital staff performed badly…they did a fine job. But the insurance companies have created this horrible medical insurance game and everyone in America is forced to play the game.

Unfortunately I don’t foresee a truly well-planned and intelligently-discussed health care solution coming from this President or this Congress. Congress should have the health care issue in committee and solutions should be discussed for a year or two before action is taken. But Congress won’t spend three weeks on this before they pass a bill. Also, there are too many special interests and lobbyists in the mix who will do anything to protect their ox from being gored by Congress. All we Americans are going to get is more and more incompetence from our public servants.


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