So my wounded brother is home in Minneapolis now and my living room has never smelled better. Love the kid, but when he spends a week on your coach, you will understand the mixture of sadness and relief I feel. He is now dealing with insurance issues and paying for his substantial medical bills. It looks like he might be able to get by with a few things, but the eye opener for me was the incredible cost for health care in the US.
My friend once told me a story about rolling his car a dozen times and finally coming to a rude stop at the base of a giant tree. His hound, uninjured, slowly licked him back to life and he staggered away to the street. Several passers-by stopped and asked him if he needed help — as in 911 — and he refused all of them. At the time, he was uninsured and he realized that if he took an ambulance to the ER and got stitched all over his beaten ass he would be a broken man financially with debts for the rest of his life. So instead, he hiked to his buddies house, passed out on the couch and slowly mended the old fashioned way. His girl kept him propped up with luvin and soup and he passed the time watching the Lord of the Rings and smoking Buddha. He is alive and well and has back issues.
My brother put his hand through a window in a freak accident that left his tendons and arteries severed. An ambulance was the only option. After two surgeries and a week drugged up on my couch, he can now go back home and get that old fashioned TLC from one of his girlfriends in the Twin Cities.
His bill will be around $30,000. He sought out a lawyer here to take care of the insurance claims. While talking, the lawyer revealed that his father had to sell his home to pay for medical bills.
In the US, we have probably the best trauma care in the world, but you best be insured. I didn’t realize how nasty this problem is while I was away in China, but now that I am home, I see that health care is one of the biggest shadows upon our land. The richest most powerful nation in the world has people dying in the ER room because they can’t pay. It has people hiking home instead of going to the hospital because surviving with some cash is better than surviving without cash.
I will be doing more research into this matter. What kind of coverage is offered in Oregon to people with no insurance? Who stands in the way of universal health care? Is there a middle ground between high quality care and affordable care? I remember hearing these terms thrown about the last eight years, but now they are much more salient to me.
Wassup, any of you have stories to tell or links to share?
Crossroads of health care and immigration. (Update 11/08 4:14pm)