Mort a Credit: #Death, #Taxes, and the $100K #Prostate
It’s that time again—tax time (hey, I’m not an April person!)—in which all the prior year’s goings and comings and savings and spendings come back to haunt me, wishing I’d done this differently or that more carefully. Of course now I think they’ve extended that already-extended August 15 deadline to October 15, but I don’t see any reason to procrastinate, ha ha. That usually means refreshing myself on the last reported year also, so two years ago, really, to synchronize figures on a complicated return, and some of those wounds are even more egregious.
In my case that means the great 2012 prostate free-for-all in which my poor beleaguered sex-exhausted prostate gland received untold amounts of radiation in an attempt to send a clear message to any cancer cells lying in wait to do me in before my appointed time, that they had better think twice before declaring victory, in fact should just go on back home where they belong.
Well, the results of such efforts are not easy to judge, but the results of receiving a bill for it all are fairly predictable, and traumatic. Not having health insurance in the pre-‘Obama-care’ world, I inquired the cost of the doctor beforehand, of course, before deciding whether to do the treatment here in the US or overseas, but his estimate was a little low—by about 500%.
I Googled, too, but that doesn’t help much when you’re talking about a hospital industry running scared and trying to lock in the highest rates possible before that uppity colored fellow in the White House turns us all over to the Muslims and Communists for final cremation and burial. Sound about right, Bubba?
By my own estimates I’ve probably got the most expensive prostate gland in the world by now, close to $100K or so when the dust finally settled, hard to say since the bills kept trickling in over the course of a year, and only starting many months AFTER the first treatment. Ouch.
Fortunately California had an incremental program already in place as a bridge to the new ‘Obama-care’ world, so that helped, but only because I was being so outrageously overcharged in the first place. They said they wouldn’t pay it all, though, because it was too high, and if I didn’t agree, then I could appeal. I said no, I agreed totally, and that I’d like to use this correspondence in any future fight over the bill.
In a subsequent check-up I told my doctor about the gross over-charge, and asked what to do.
“Don’t pay it,” were his words of sage advice.
“But what if they send me to collection? I don’t want some hairy guy with a baseball bat waiting for me at the end of the driveway,” as if I really had a driveway, not having had a motorized vehicle in my possession for five years.
“I don’t think they’ll do that.”
That’s exactly what they did, sent me a collection notice for $50K due, and counting, at high interest. At the bottom were a few boxes asking me how I wanted to pay, and if I had any further words of explanation for further consideration. So I told them the whole story of the Great Prostate Massacree and the subsequent mental manipulations on my part, wishing like Hell I’d stayed in Asia to do the treatment, where costs are lower and much more transparent than the much more civilized America.
I laid out the options to the collection agency as such: 1) I could simply refuse to pay, and they could sue me, or 2) I could sue them for fraud, or 3) they could swipe my credit card for $10K and we could forget we ever met. Guess which option they chose? So I ended up paying out-of-pocket more or less what I expected in the first place, still double the good doctor’s estimate. How’s that for cosmic symmetry? To those of you who would ditch ‘Obama-care’ for whatever reason, fear or frustration, I’d urge you to re-think your position. Obama is our last best chance for this country. I can’t believe he’s still alive, so much for my predictive abilities.
(And to those of you who figure I guess I learned my lesson, shoulda’ bought health insurance all along, I submit to you that I did one better: I saved my money, i.e. insured myself, and still came out ahead. Ha! Gotcha. Unfortunately that doesn’t help all the others who never learned that trick.)
I only hope the day will soon come when America the Great has a true public health care system, and we don’t have to crawl around like vermin hiding our heads, dodging bullets and hoping for the best from a health system that is still more oriented to the benefit of insurance companies than patients. I hope, and pray, and vote.
BTW do people really have $70K credit limits for their Mastercard? Does Mastercard have $70K credit limits for their Mastercard? What is the Value of a Human Life anyway?