An Open Letter to America

Dear America,

I want to take a minute to talk to you about another horrific healthcare experience I’ve had within your bountiful borders. IT SHOULDN’T BE THIS WAY! I’m going to preface this with that I LOVE you because of the drive and zest this nation has for creation, innovation and success – but you really need to come together and apply this energy to broken systems like healthcare, education, gun control, and immigration.

So here’s the deal – I need a really simple surgery. (Please don’t be concerned, it’s seriously super minor and trivial). When I went to schedule the appointment, I asked the office what my copay costs would be. They weren’t sure, and directed me to contact the surgical outpatient facility. So I call the facility. My facility copay is $100. I ask if that’s everything – the lady grumpily responds that NO, this is only the facility cost. I ask what other costs there might be. She says that there will be anesthesiologist costs and surgeon costs, and that my surgeon’s office would know. So I call the surgeon’s office. They tell me they aren’t sure – that they think the anesthesiologist cost is $400 per hour, and $100 for every hour after, and that my procedure should be 1.5 hours barring no complications. But if I need to be under longer…that dollar clock ticks! And no control have I over it. The office then indicates they aren’t sure of the surgeon copay and will get back to me. THEN, I’m told I need to get a medical clearance procedure from my primary care physician. I ask what that entails. A full medical run down…ECG scan, tests, the whole lot. And of course they have no idea what my copay is for that. And to top it off, the clearance only lasts for one month, so I need to time it very closely to my surgery procedure, which I still have no idea when that will be…or if it somehow gets delayed, I might need to get another clearance.

So…right now the cost is estimated somewhere between $550 and $Who-Knows-What. For something super simple that I NEED to be healthy as a human and enjoy a base quality of life. I’m so thankful I have good healthcare and a good job just to be able to take care of something that is truly a base level need. And I’m really grateful that I’m a competent human who can navigate these complex systems to find the information I need and cover the bases that need to be covered.

Experiences like this are why people rack up huge unexpected medical bills with emergency procedures and end up in debt for the rest of their lives. This is why people don’t go to the doctor to keep themselves healthy, or call an ambulance when they are hurt. This is why Walter White started making meth to pay his medical bills.

America – Please. Get it together. I love you…but your people are going to fall apart if you keep this up….and I don’t think we can grow old and gray together under these circumstances. In fact, many of us may not even grow old because we can’t afford to. Do you really want that for the people you love and who come together to make you so great?


With Love,

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