I learned from Amy (hippies in yuppieland—a private journal, or I’d give a link) that long-time AOL journaller Pam (his1desire) was diagnosed last week with lung cancer. Though I know her only peripherally, I thought I would head over to Just One Girl’s Headnoise to add my words of encouragement to the stack of well-wishes sent Pam’s way. I immediately became gripped by Pam’s saga and her willingness to share it with the journal community.
Today, I read her entry about being contacted by the billing department at the hospital where she is being treated, and being dunned for what basically amounts to a "down payment" on her treatment. WTF!!!!???? Here is a woman who is still in the "deer-in-the-headlights" stages of trying to deal with the dreaded "c" word, coping with huge issues like how she’s going to break the news to her children, how she’s going to make sense of all the input from a multitude of different doctors, which tests with which specialists are on which days, and these IDIOTS have the unmitigated gall to call her on the phone and start hounding her for money! And she has insurance! But the ever-sensitive, ever-compassionate health care providers are making sure their priorities are lined up…get the money FIRST, and then start the treatment.
I could not believe this. To me, this is like having my auto mechanic tell me that he wants $500 up front before he even starts fixing my car. Like I would do that! Like anybody would! Why should health care be any different? Doctors, hospitals, the entire health-care world, are providing a service, for which I don’t believe anyone should have to pay before the service is provided. That’s just plain common sense. Add this to the fact of what we’re actually talking about here---treatment that could very well be a matter of life and death for a patient. Patients who are having to deal with huge emotional and practical issues…and the first thing we do is ask them to bring $500 with them when they come in for their biopsy? Absolutely inexcusable.
I had to wonder…what is wrong with a society that allows this? Are we so immersed in our "I got mine" philosophy in this country that even the industries that are supposed to deal in healing and compassion put their own bottom lines above everything else? Anyone who thinks there is not a health-care/insurance crisis in this country, should just go ahead and come down with a life-threatening disease, and see what happens. Something is very, very broken here.