A night in the ER without insurance.

Medically we are definitely a country of haves and have nots. My friend, who has no health insurance or job, slipped and fell on the ice. Some wonderful people took her to the ER. I was called because I was in the phone book and I am her friend. I went to the hospital and was at first told her bone was not broken. Then the doctor came in and he ordered more xrays. Turns out the bone was broken.
When a person with insurance has a broken bone they almost always seem to be told that they need to have an operation or their bones won't heal correctly. My friend was told she might have nerve damage and they splinted her leg and showed her some crunches. As she attempted to use them she grew dizzy. She was given a pain shot and a pain prescription. There was only one pharmacy open at this hour and it was in the opposite direction of home. I suggested that I should get the prescription and come back to get her.
Perhaps I should point out that most of the roads in Boise were covered with ice. My driveway was covered with ice.
I watched my friend begin to use the crutches. I watched how hard it was for her to move and how much pain she seemed to be in. I realized that despite some nursing training I had no idea how I would get her into my home. I explained the problems. I asked if I could put a deposit down and borrow a wheel chair. I could not imagine the second trip on crutches would be my icy slippery driveway. They said they don't do that. They thought I could rent them at the pharmacy. You can't rent them but you can buy them for $300. (I didn't find out about the misinformation until I got to the pharmacy) I only needed to get 20 feet.
I sort of panicked. People will tell you I am good in a crisis, especially a medical crisis. I remembered that the Synagogue had a wheel chair in the basement. I had a key but I didn't want to just go in so I called Rabbi Dan. He started asking me about my brother, who is fighting his second bought of cancer. I told him I needed to talk about that but I had an emergency and needed the wheelchair. He told me to to get it and that he would see if he could find more help in the morning. I had left the room to make the phone call. The nurse kicked me into the waiting room. I went to get the car. They followed me out with my friend. They put her in the car on this very nasty ice day and shut the door.
The staff did not ask if we could take my friend. The staff did not ask if we knew how to help her in. The staff seriously did not seem to care that she could easily fall on the ice trying to get inside with bare toes on her broken leg.
I got the wheelchair. My husband, son and I helped my friend in. She seems to be managing. We went back out to drive the 5 miles to the pharmacy where my car kept skidding. I was so mad at the treatment and about the policy that said that they could not give enough medicine (it was a cheap pain killer) to make it though that first night. The treatment my friend got seems to me to be callus. They did set her bone but.....
I am sure if I came in with the same break with my good health insurance policy I would have been admitted and I probably would be having an operation to steady my bones today.

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And, Of Course,

. . . the bill your uninsured friend will receive will be higher than the same bill you'd receive for the exact same care with your good health insurance policy. Because, of course, your friend doesn't have the benefit of "network negotiated" charges that even high deductible policyholders who haven't reached their deductibles tend to have. Of course, perhaps she's wealthy and it doesn't matter, but in my experience, those who are uninsured are the least able to afford that higher cost.

You know, kind of like how the rest of us pay for the failed "job creator" millionaires' tax cuts.

It's a long hard road ahead

to single payer, everybody-in health insurance. And there are armies of companies with suboptimal, parochial interests who are prepared to fight against it every inch of the way.