Friday, April 30, 2010

A Sense of Modicum and Decorum Out of Whack


I just got the hospital bill for the splinter in my foot I blogged about a couple of posts ago. A few bills short of $2,000, and they didn't even get it out. You would think there would be some sense of professional shame attached to the issuing of such a bill, but there wasn't. To recap, I stepped on something while digging in the garden a couple of weekends ago, and, unable to get it out myself, I went to the emergency room of Concord Hospital, where a female doctor on duty went to work, first injecting the bottom of my foot with some anesthetic. After about a half an hour of labor with knives and other apparatus and more injections of anesthetic, she pronounced the splinter unfindable. Another doctor, a higher up, was called in and he took a look, probed with his fingers around the wound, and said there was nothing else to be done and advised me to "soak your foot in soapy water and take these antibiotics." I hobbled home, worse off then when I'd arrived. I assume that this advice was the part of the bill itemized under "professional services" - $800. I understand the economics of health care are out of control, but more fundamentally, can I say the word ripoff and get some nods of agreement out there in the virtual world?
Obviously, the fact that the insurance company picks up the tab for all but $50 worth of this mockery of a sham, to paraphrase Woody Allen, is the crux of the problem. If I had to pay it all myself, I can easily assure you there would be some pain coming back at somebody in the administration of said hospital. But, indulge me in some larger ramblings about what this all means.
We've gotten way too greedy, people!!! This is like Wall Street, where Goldman Sachs used to be a respectable company helping clients handle their investments before falling prey to the machinations and money lusts of traders like Fabrice Tourre, or like a whole nation of Tea Partiers out there who don't want to pay taxes but don't mind going to war in different parts of of the planet to secure their comfortable existences and "way of life." We talk about this bubble, or that bubble, and assume they come and go and eventually we settle into some economic semblance of reality, but really, we all live in the bubble of expectations called the American dream where everyone gets rich and if you don't there's some flaw in your character. I blame it on the Puritans. We are a nation of pigs suffering under the delusion that it's healthy to be so. Our sense of modicum and decorum is all out of whack. With these trials of the Goldman Sachs people, I will admit, I am asking myself: Is this where we get out the pitchforks?
To those wondering, the splinter did come out on its own about ten days later, after my wife went on line and discovered the home remedy of soaking in hot water, baking soda and hydrogen peroxide. One afternoon I pushed and out it popped, almost a quarter inch of pine. I wonder if I could sell it on Ebay.
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