There is much discussion about how health care is disseminated among the masses, and especially its costs. Since my early 20s, I have had some form of health insurance or another. It began shortly AFTER the birth of my son. At the time I became pregnant with Randy, his dad was working 5 hours a night at the local DMV, and finishing college. I worked in a little insurance office. Neither of our jobs provided health insurance that would cover pregnancy and childbirth. However, the doctor was a mere $275.00 or so, and the hospital was a similar amount for delivery. We sold the family motorcycle to pay for bringing Randy into the world.
Within months, we were provided Kaiser health insurance from an employer. Things seemed really great for several years. Kaiser Sacramento during the mid 1960s was a small one-story facility on Arden Way, near Watt Avenue. You could get in and get out, in short order. A couple years later, we had a daughter born at the facility.
Soon after, Kaiser began to expand aggressively. When my last child was born in 1970, Kaiser had just finished building a new, much larger, state of the art, multi-level clinic and hospital at its present location on Morse Avenue. When I look around the Greater Sacramento region today, Kaiser hospitals, clinics and facilities, are in multiple locations. Presently, Kaiser is many times larger, if not hundreds of times larger than those early days in the 1960s. Yet, good care has continued, and I have been generally pleased with them.
But good care doesn’t coming cheaply. And, as costs escalate, I wonder how we will be able to contain some of the expense. Let me give an example. Yesterday afternoon, I had an MRI. The procedure took about 35 minutes. It was my first MRI experience. For those who have never had an MRI, they essentially take you behind a formidable door, which looks like no one could get in – or OUT! The MRI machine has a slide out tray upon which you lay. They put an IV in your arm. Hopefully they will be lucky enough to find a good vein. The technician was having difficulty finding any of mine yesterday. And this morning, my arms look like a jealous lover has beaten me!
You are provided earplugs because while you travel through the machine, there are multiple thumping, banging and other loud noises emitted. They ask in advance if you are claustrophobic. I’m not, but by the end of the procedure, I’m surprised the inside of the machine didn’t exhibit deep permanent claw marks.
All this MRI hoopla because a couple of ultrasounds showed I have a Fatty Liver. I am in the female age group, which this may happen. However, I’ve really been studying why this may be. I swim laps regularly and I don’t drink to excess. But I definitely do like creamy sauces and chocolate. And, I LOVE real butter, not that other crap. So although, I could shed 10 pounds or so, I have this unusually fat liver.
So let’s get down to the cost - just on my side of it, as an insured person. I am over 65 and have Medicare. My government mandated premium for Medicare approaches $100.00 a month. My premium for Kaiser Supplemental Care is $86.00 a month. My health insurance premiums add up to approximately $186.00 a month to get my foot through the door. Now, let’s add that I have a $2,500 a year deductible. I chose this plan, because I am generally healthy, and haven’t been hospitalized in over 20 years. My doctor visits, lab and radiology co-pays are $25.00 each. The deductible for the MRI was $100.00.
I haven’t yet determined what the actual REAL cost of the MRI was, but searching around on-line, I found that MRIs can cost up to $3,500, depending on what is being imaged. Other than my own deductible expense, I have no idea the actual cost, of the two previous ultra sounds I’ve had.
I have meandered here folks, and I have no real solutions as to how we may contain costs, other than we go back to the days when you could have a baby for $550.00, and pay for it by selling a used motorcycle. BUT, I am wondering if we couldn’t save a few bucks on this medical imaging stuff, by merely buying a ticket from Sacramento to Las Vegas, and going through the airport body scanners instead:-) I would suggest getting scanned from Vegas to Sacramento, but they say, “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas,” and I would need the results sent to my doctor:-)