Charlie Buttrey

April 5, 2019

After having been treated successfully for a lower bowel obstruction (if I didn’t mention this before, do not — I repeat, DO NOT — get one of these), I have returned home, not much worse for the wear.

But the experience left me thinking.

For one, had this happened even just 150 years ago, I almost certainly would have died in an agonizingly painful way.

Secondly, I haven’t received any invoices yet, but between the emergency room visit, the CAT scan, the blood work, the X-rays, the nasogastric feeding tube and the semi-private room, I’m figuring that the cost will run somewhere in the area of $15,000.  I am extremely fortunate in that I have both relatively decent health insurance and a relatively healthy balance in my Health Savings Account; this whole adventure is not likely to cost me much out of pocket.  Had I been uninsured, however, it would have meant a monumental hit, even with a household income well above the region’s median.  Had I been without insurance and earning income more in line with the average working Vermonter, those 36 life-saving hours in the hospital would have devastated my family and our finances.

My father died a little over a year ago.  He spent the last two months in a hospital bed.  The bill when it was all over? Zero dollars. Or, more precisely, zero pounds. He was living in the United Kingdom, which has universal health care.

The fact that there are those in power who continue to believe that the bottom line for health insurance should be profit for stockholders is, in a word, sinful.


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