Tuesday, August 21, 2007

The Accident


A week ago today I was hit by a car. While I was walking.

It was the guy’s fault; he wasn't looking and caught me when I was halfway across his front end. I backed up as quickly as possible while placing my hands on the hood of his car since apparently I thought I had super powers and imagined I could stop a car with a hot pink manicure.

I also screamed. And no, not because I was afraid I'd chipped a nail. But in all fairness I was sort of busy trying to save my own life so I didn't get a good look until later. I was surprised that I screamed. Sometimes when I watch horror movies I wonder when, in real life, you would be forced into a scream. Apparently when you’re being mowed down by a 2001 Lexus.

I remember falling backwards but didn’t anticipate how my head would hit. I know from watching Jonathan Lipnicki in Jerry McGuire that the human head weighs 8 pounds. As I fell I was aware of my head still in mid-air while my butt touched down first. (And a lovely bruise it is, thank you for asking) I had a metal clip in my hair. The impact crushed it. The head hits hard, I know that now.

Jake, the guy who hit me, took full responsibility, gave me all his insurance info and kept repeating how mortified he was and that it was his fault. I think he'll look both ways about a million times before he pulls out into traffic again. And he forever answered my question as to whether men or women are the worst drivers.

I was worried about two things: a concussion and all the metal parts in my body. I am practically bionic, held together by titanium and steel. I could have gone to the hospital for MRI's and Cat Scans and x-rays. I would have used Jake's Farmer's insurance to cover it. However I have learned one thing about hospitals. Nobody's insurance will cover everything. They will ALWAYS find something to bill you for.

Sidebar: Someone in the health insurance business told me how to beat the system if you don't have insurance. I've used it three times and each time it has worked. Would you be surprised to know it has something to do with the government and the corruptness of hospital administrations? Didn't think so.

I don't have health insurance. Which is why I went to India. The experimental surgery I needed had not been approved in this country and wasn't until almost a year after I returned from Mumbai. So even if I had had insurance, it would not have been covered. There were other Americans there when I arrived. One was a school teacher from Arizona, a guy named Jeff. He had the best health insurance you can get. He told me he found one doctor in the U.S. doing the surgery he and I needed and he was at Cedars Sinai here in L.A. Even though the government had not yet approved it, this doctor was doing the procedure anyway! He told Jeff that his fee for the surgery was $20,000. That did not count the hospital stay, anesthesiology, rehab etc. And since the surgery wasn't covered by insurance, Jeff would have had to pay it all out of pocket. A whopping $65,000.

Jeff took his wife to India with him for the two week stay in a private suite of rooms and the total cost for them both, including airfares, his surgery, his rehab, and his wife getting some stomach flu while she was there and requiring her own private room, was $18,000.

My total was $12,000 but that's because I went into a 4 star hotel for 3 days before I checked into the hospital. I was in so much pain by then and so angry that I was going to India by myself that I hired a Canadian company to take care of all the details and they tacked on their profit.

Six months after I returned I went to my internist in Beverly Hills. I had an infected finger and I'd always heard that if you're full of metal, one of those infections can kill you. I'm probably exaggerating but I went in anyway. I told my doctor about my trip to India.

"Yeah, Medical Tourism is huge these days but I'm not surprised. All the money that people pay into our insurance system goes to administrative costs, raises, new equipment etc. None of it, NONE of it goes to helping the patient. Let's say you paid $300 a month over the last 20 years. That would come out to $72,000. And you spent $12,000 going to India for a surgery no insurance would have covered anyway. You're a genius. And you got to see India."

Because all my surgeries resulted from getting scoliosis at 13, any insurance carrier could have rejected anything I submitted by saying that it was all pre-existing. And I can't prove it isn't. They can't prove it is but who's going to win that battle?

My internist also said the biggest losers were the people who took the highest deductibles. Who uses up $5000 a year in doctor's services? My sister has never met one deductible in over 20 years. Not. One. I paid my doctor $350.00 for a comprehensive checkup. That's a little over what I could be paying for health care every single month. If I had a high deductible, I would have still had to pay for that visit.

My internist told me a story about his son. He had to have an emergency appendectomy so my doctor took him to Cedars Sinai, one of the best hospitals in California. The doctor who performed the surgery did not charge his peer a fee. The boy spent one night in the hospital because that's all the insurance and the hospital allowed on that particular surgery. My internist submitted his insurance for the stay.

He got a bill for over $20,000 with a note saying that this was the amount the insurance did not cover. He canceled his insurance on the spot and now discounts all his services for those with no health insurance. And gives me a $50.00 off coupon for everyone I refer.

And I don't have a concussion and all the metal parts are still working. So far.

End of chat.

24 comments:

  1. Don't even get me started on the pathetic state of health-care (or lack thereof) in this country. I never cease to be amazed at just how bad it's gotten. The amount of money that the medical insurance lobbies are pumping into politicians to keep this crap from being fixed must be astounding. And, of course, we pay for it.

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  2. D2, the days of the hmo and ppo turned the industry downward and now it's in free fall.

    I still get pissed thinking that when Hillary tried to fix healthcare in the second year of Bill's first term of office she was derided and signaled out as a ball buster who was trying to take over the White House!

    Now the only people to blame are the cabinet members who stopped her.

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  3. "And he forever answered my question as to whether men or women are the worst drivers." Thank you for that. On a serious note, I'm glad you weren't seriously hurt.

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  4. Mike Dugan11:12 AM

    Dear Suzy - I'm glad you're okay. Mostly I just want you to know that I read your blog even when you're not writing about me.

    Your Pal, Mike

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  5. Anonymous11:14 AM

    Anybody see "Sicko?" It will make you want to move to France in a hurry.

    I also am glad you weren't seriously hurt in that accident.

    --Abeyta

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  6. Anonymous11:25 AM

    When Hillary was trying to fix health care, she was modeling it after Hawaii. Here anyone who works 20 hours a week automatically gets health insurance after working for 30 days. Also, they charge a flat fee, not one based on your age where 20 year olds pay nothing and 50 year olds pay way to much. You get great coverage. Even if you don't want to work, you can buy health insurance for about $190 a month which covers everything. I'm trying to get Suzy to move here, but she points out that her blog is about L.A.......
    Aloha,
    Martha Jane

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  7. Erika, I'd like to see some stats on who hits pedestrians more, men or women. Real stats, not ones made up by a male reader.

    Dugan, you lie like a dog.

    Abeyta, France rules. Always has, always will.

    MJ, why can't the rest of the US catch up to Hawaii?

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  8. I am so glad you are alright!
    Being that I am a nurse I know first hand how the healthcare system sucks. My pay sucks and I work my ass off. And I know some nurses who like to blame the "nurse salary budget" partly on the uninsured. But I know what our little country hospitals presidents salary is. Bastard! I won't even look at him when I pass him in the hall, not that he would recognize me, or care.

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  9. gm, of course it's the salaries at the top that cost the nurses'their pay.

    The US Government subsidizes ALL hospitals so that they can take care of people with no insurance. But the administrators use the money to buy machinery and pay salaries at the top so it's a lose-lose for everyone - but the head of the hospital.

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  10. Anonymous7:56 PM

    It's kinda awesome all posts you received by bringing up the health care issue. It really made me feel like people are fed up and ready for action regarding this issue.

    Except for Mike Dugan who had one tiny little sentence about you, then brought it back around to him.

    --Abeyta

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  11. Abeyta, Dugan's a comic. A male comic. Nuff said.

    Yeah, everyone's ready for a change in our health care system. But who is going to do it? And if we vote for someone who does not promise overall reform then we have no one but ourselves to blame.

    And of course Dugan.

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  12. hey suz, glad you're ok.

    How much $$$ ya gettin? Need a witness?

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  13. Hey Mickeys, no $$ involved. I wasn't injured so there was no reason to sue.

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  14. Ok, the idea that Hillary was going to fix healthcare is a little ridiculous, frankly, but I agree that it's a f---ed up system.

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  15. Well, we'll never know what she would have done because she was so widely derided for even wanting to try.

    That was 15 years ago, it might be too late now....

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  16. I think the medical profession way over "medicates". I don't trust dentists either. My husband is a diabetic and he's refused treatments simply because it won't improve the quality of his life, just makes for hassle and expense for us. He's been in the emergency room plenty and I bring his insulin and testing devices and take care of his blood sugar levels etc. because they nickel and dime you to death (and double bill). And then the mistakes! The experts spend plenty of time documenting but nobody reads whats been written on the charts! We live down the road from Mayo Clinic and are constantly being solicited for health problems and for donations.

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  17. Anonymous8:25 AM

    Hi Suzy,

    What a hilarious, yet excellent story. I'll share another with you. A church friend came to India where I've been living for some years to have a procedure which had only "just" been made available to people in the States -- hip resurfacing. You'll be interested to know that he's a health insurance salesman :-) and two years ago he dropped his own health insurance when the premium reached $1,600 per month for only he and his wife for a $5,000 deductible policy. The savings MORE than paid for his hip resurfacing here. He told me he saved at least $80,000!

    I can't match those kinds of savings, but I too have had three (count them), THREE trips to Indian medical tourism hospitals. Nevertheless, I saved a bundle by using the hospitals America's Medical Solutions www.AmericasMedicalSolutions.com recommends and I'm happy to mention that they are three Americans who own the company here in India. The point I'm making is that they keep up to date on the best hospitals for the best procedures at prices that are just stunning. As an American actually living here in India, I know that the biggest thing anyone would consider is their comfort over coming to India for health care. It's articles like yours that should give those people the edge, because I can testify that there's no hospitals like them in the States. I'm sure you can attest like me that everything you will hear about them, the suite for a hospital room, the medical procedure itself, and the custodial to the nursing to the doctor to the physical therapy staff are far, far better than anything I've ever even heard of in the States.

    Talk to us who have done it and drop your insurance policies and put the savings in your pockets with the best treatment in the world here in India. Of course, there are others in the world who can do as well, but no one beats what's going on here. --Dan

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  18. Anne, they've got us all by the short hairs.

    Dan, I did 3 posts on India back in July, I don't know whether you caught them, but I sung the praises of the treatment there and am glad you wrote in to confirm what many of us already know.

    I wrote down the name of that company and I hope others do too.

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  19. Actually, there are people whose sole job is to read patients charts. I know because they will follow you around and harass you if you forgot to sign somewhere. And I like medication.

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  20. i'm glad you're feeling better...but you didn't say if you got a date out of it.

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  21. surcie6:31 PM

    I am so glad you're okay.

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  22. I asked my friend about the website referenced above. They have family in India, and her husband trained at the Mayo Clinic in Urology. Here are her comments:
    The lower cost of health care in India--its true and the hospitals are excellent and extremely affordable for US citizens because of the rupee-dollar coversion rates-- i think it is 55-60 rupees to a dollar--the labor is cheap there but more than that the culture is that of customer service - - you never get "NO" for an answer and most of these places will treat you like royalty-- this is true of the high end hospitals that cater to the rich indians and americans, europeans etc-- the Docs are also really good --a lot of them used to come here in the last 15-20 years--the US immigration policies were very favorable to the Docs as the US needed doctors and engineers too--so we let em in--we let them train here--ie do some more residency and they in retun would make the bigger bucks. We dont see that many Docs coming in now since the immigration is stricter due to security concerns and more than that we have enough doctors. 15-20 yrs ago we needed doctors in areas where american doctors would not want to practice because they were too remote but the Indian/Pakistani doctors would go cuz it meant career opportunities for them. Now we dont need as many so we make it harder for them to come here--so as a result we have medical tourism-- great idea? Health care is expensive in the US-why not get the patients to come to India if the doctors cant come to the US? thats whats happening now and I have heard great reviews-- I would say there are few specialties where one would say that the quality of care is better here but other than that they rival sevices provided here. Another intresting thing--after 9/11 the Mayo clinic lost a lot of its Arab patients as the patients could not travel freely so the Mayo clinic got wise and brought its resources to Dubai ( middle east) and opened up a clinic there--its a response to the medical market needs--demand and supply really - - " Interesting huh? I checked out the website myself and will keep it in my back pocket for my son - he may need some work on his cardiovascular system as he gets older!

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  23. (I'm just catching up!)

    Great story, on many levels. I am embarrassed to say that I hit a pedestrian a few weeks ago myself. In spite of being a notoriously good and safe driver, accidents (and lapses of stupidity) happen.

    I'm glad you're okay. (So is my victim, thank God!).

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  24. Many workers suffer an accident at work in their professional lifetime. Unfortunately some are unsure of their rights and if they have a claim for compensation. Unfortunately many people attempt frivolous law suits attempting to get money out of their employer, while genuinely injured people who are out of work stay quiet. People should know their rights they may be eligible for compensation to cover medical bills or time out of work. If it is a industrial accident then inform your boss of the incident and ask if you can leave for treatment immediately.

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