Emmy's Nose and US Healthcare

Posted on Sunday, June 06, 2010 by Alex R. Cronk-Young

Last week I had my first real dramatic parenting experience. While I was across the room getting dressed, Emmy was watching her grandpa out the window and bumped the board holding it up (the weight is broken). It came crashing down, I assume on her head, but in the second I heard it fall and her start screaming she already had her head out, at which point it caught her hand.

I've replayed the moment I lifted the window off and grabbed her thousands of times already. She looked at me with sheer terror in her eyes. Somehow she had tore her nose open, and I grabbed her and held her against me, not sure how serious it was, but blood streaming down my chest.

Once we checked her out a bit, nothing looked really serious. She could bend all of her fingers, but one of the two places where her nose ripped had gone completely through. Meaning part of her nose was two seperated flaps of skin and I didn't know for sure if they'd heal back together. Here's where things break down.

We pay over 400 dollars a month for health insurance for all three of us. My job doesn't offer it at all, so we have to purchase it ourselves. That is a sizable chunk of my monthly income, and yet it doesn't cover us for so many things -- one of which is emergency room visits. If we go to the ER and Blue Cross & Blue Shield decides that we needed to once the doctors find out what is wrong, I believe they pay a percentage of it, but if they deem it "unnecessary" then we get to pay a fee that I believe is over $100.

So I, as a parent, am left to decide whether or not that trip to the ER is "necessary", and if I screw up that decision than we get a bill that on a lot of weeks we would be unable to pay. Have you ever tried to call a hospital to ask for advice on whether or not you should come into the hospital or if the situation is alright on it's own? In America, the advice is always to come in.

They don't want to get sued if they say otherwise and someone up and dies, and I imagine they like the extra income they bring in from having people show up without actually needing anything done to them. After all, just walking through that door and having a doctor look at you costs you money, even if the doctor says nothing is wrong and sends you home after taking up a minute or two of his time.

I'm just thankful that Emerson's nose is healing wonderfully despite us not having gone to the ER. If it had healed like a mangled lump of skin I would have felt like complete crap every time I looked at it. This is fucked up, America. A parent has enough things to worry about, and whether or not a visit to the emergency room is "necessary" should not be one of them. Yeah, ultimately it all worked out, but I would have at least had the immediate comfort of knowing a doctors opinion if we would just shut up and get universal healthcare.

It might not affect you, but it sure as hell affects me. "Oh my god! Universal healthcare in other countries is so broken! Just ask anyone!" Guess what, when I was trying to decide if I should take Emmy in, a Canadian friend of mine called a phone number and had a doctor's opinion for me in a few minutes, free of charge. It wasn't biased by whether or not they'd get sued, or how much money they'll make, it was just answers. Jesus Christ, that sounds broken, doesn't it?

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