Observations Regarding Health Care In America

So, for reasons that are rather uninteresting and slightly confusing, I did not have the correct insurance card with me when I arrived at the emergency room last weekend. The admitting people were unable to verify that I was indeed insured and marked me down as an uninsured patient. That was an eye-opening experience. Of course, I could be wrong in my analysis of the situation but here is what transpired from my perspective.

  • I saw the doctor once for about three minutes.
  • I had to request pain medication and when it finally arrived it was in pill form which I refused to take. (I was still in that object of torture C Spin collar thingamajig and frankly, it scared me to think of trying to swallow pills with that contraption around my neck.) They eventually gave me a shot of Demerol.
  • I had abrasions on my head and face yet no treatment was given to those areas. (My brother-in-law cleaned those up once they got me back home.)
  • Every time we asked about something, no one could give us an immediate response.
  • When the CT scans came back and showed that nothing was broken, they removed the object of torture C Spin collar thingamajig but I was not offered any other support brace to aid in healing.
  • I had to ask for water…which I never got.

Basically, in my opinion, the hospital did only what was immediately medically necessary. Of course, this could just be the way things happen in an emergency room. Maybe all the medical dramas on television have warped my perception of what is supposed to happen at a hospital? I have limited experience with emergency rooms and hospitals in general. I’ve been to an ER once before and hospitalized twice (when I had my babies). Maybe it was the hospital I was at? Others, who are more familiar with these sorts of things, swear that some hospital ERs are better than others. I don’t really know. All I know is what I experienced and it seemed to me that the hospital was making sure that minimal time and effort was given to me based on my insurance status. They didn’t know whether or not they would get paid for the services rendered. The less they did for me, the less I would have to pay and the less they would possibly lose if I couldn’t pay.

As much as despise the thought of universal health care and as much as despise the current insurance system, I have to wonder if there’s some way to make sure that when you go to the hospital, you get the treatment you need regardless of your insurance status. But then who decides what you need? In my opinion, I needed pain medication and I needed my abrasions treated. but the in the hospital’s opinion, I did not. Who’s right?

I don’t know. I do know that I will be requesting and getting the correct insurance card!


Filed under by Malia, random, Rant

6 responses to “Observations Regarding Health Care In America

  1. The only time I haven’t left the ER disgusted by the care I received was when I went in losing huge amounts of blood all over their floor and staff – that seemed to warrant some attention and kindness. I’ve only gone to the ER 3 times myself – each time for emergencies. I don’t believe in using the ER as replacement for standard medical care (which is an often heard complaint by ER staff and I suspect sometimes the reason for the attitudes received. You obviously had good reason for being there as well. With the exception of time I left a large trail of blood behind me, the doctor usually pops in for less than 5 minutes (often promising to return in a moment and not being seen again for hours) and the nurses are hit and miss. I always feel like someone has forgotten I’m behind that curtain because I’ve been left alone for so long. I am sure that is often because there is a life and death situation going on and by all means deal with the heart attack or stabbing victim before me if I’m not in imminent danger but please let me know you haven’t forgotten me!

    So no, I don’t think it was a lack of insurance card thing. I think the ER staff is over worked and under staffed and unless there is a chance you are going to die on their watch they aren’t too on top of things.

  2. i am sorry you had a poor experience, i personally feel that ER visits in general are pretty bad, although yours does seem exceptionally poor. i do think the idea of universal health care is a great idea and fully support it. then the ‘least of these’ will receive equal care and attention, and not be left asking for pain relief…proper health care should not ever be about the haves and have nots.

  3. I had a very poor experience in a hospital ER once. I was so shocked by the lack of professionalism, that we wrote a well-worded letter. We ended up getting our bill reduced significantly. (And I did have the insurance card, so I know the treatment – or lack thereof- wasn’t related to that issue.) If you feel so inclined, you might want to try writing a letter listing your concerns.

    It is true, though, that you will likely have very little contact with the dr; especially in a very busy ER. The “medical drama” shows certainly exaggerate the amount of dr. to patient contact! 🙂

    I hope you’re recovering well.

  4. PopC

    I can’t say anything about whjat was going on in the back but there was a steady stream of people walking into the ER while we were in the waiting room wondering whjat they were doing with you. None of these people were bleeding, or choking, or turning blue because they couldn’t breath. I think part of the problem is the number of people that use the ER as a (free?) doctor visit. Sad too that people with potentially serious injuries can’t get the attention they need.

  5. For whatever it’s worth, much depends on staffing and what else is going on in there at the time. It’s hard to see what’s coming in by helicopter and ambulance, and there are times that one patient can take all the resources.

    Not that that fact excuses the way you were treated, it’s just the facts, sometimes.

    Write it down like Michele said. If I were the administrator of the ER, I’d want to know.

  6. Janette

    My daughter went to the hospital. She did not know that her military ID WAS her insurance card. They treated her as uninsured. They removed her appendix and fallopean tube in the emergency room. She was discharged 2 hours after surgery to the waiting room. I was 2,000miles away- as was dad. My sibblings could not seem to get it together enought to go help her out.
    It was HORRID!
    We later got the bill- $17,000! I think the military filed a complaint and paid little of the cost.

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