Friday, June 29, 2007
I went to see the movie today on a whim--got in the car about 3 minutes after deciding to go and walked into a showing just at the end of the previews--and a couple of things crossed my mind on watching the movie. The first thing is possibly going to surprise some of those familiar with the story surrounding my appendectomy, but I'm glad in a way that I had it in Russia. The severity of my case meant about 5 days in the Reanimation (their version of Intensive Care) ward and another 4 in a private room as I got over peritonitis. total cost for the procedure, the drugs, the awful food, and the private room added up to around $4500. I certainly wouldn't repeat the experience--I have but one appendix to give to the Russian Cause--but I certainly can't imagine how much an equivalent stay in an American hospital would cost. It certainly would have cost substantially more than $4500.
The second thing that made my mind go off on a parallel track for a minute or two occurred when the movie moved to HMOs looking to reduce costs. The easiest way they do this is to deny claims. Personal Disclosure Moment: Due to a facial injury I sustained years before in a motorcycle accident, a bunch of capillaries merged on my lip into something that looked like a blood blister. One winter evening, my chapped lips split, right over that damned thing. I bled like a piece of thawing liver for about two hours before I finally broke down and decided to go to an emergency room. Before I did so, I made sure to call the HMO to get "clearance." The gal, when she heard how long I'd been bleeding, told me to get the heck off the phone and go right away. The phone looked like a murder weapon, and the bathroom wasn't pretty at all by this point. So I went. The thing had to be cauterized to be got rid of. Twice, once by a specialist. My claim was denied. The reasons were idiotic even to my non-health-care-expert eyes. I had to write a long letter and my regular doctor did too before the HMO decided to--grudgingly--pay what they should've paid. They bank on the chances that you'll give up and just pay it yourself. It's their way of maximizing profit while you pay them to do nothing for you.
But the thing that struck me most was the number of handicapped spots in the theater that were occupied, the wheelchairs, elderly folks, and people with crutches that were in that screening room this afternoon. That spoke volumes. People may have their issues with parts of Moore's argument, but seeing the number of disenfranchised and directly-affected folks that are turning out to see the movie, there is little doubt that the system is not helping those it should be. Recommended viewing.
--Photo adapted from Anton Corbijn's video Never Let Me Down Again