Monday, June 13, 2005


So, for the past 10 days I've been suffering from a kidney stone. The pain has, fortunately, been intermittent, though at times quite intense. On Wednesday I go into the hospital for an ultrasound procedure to break up the stone. I'm not looking forward to the after-effects, which involve passing the fragments of the broken-up stone. Eww. Plus, the doctor tells me the ultrasound procedure works only 80 percent of the time.
Nevertheless, I've got to count my blessings (between self-pitying whines).
My itinerary over the past 10 days:
  • Saturday, 6/4: Phone conversation with my GP, who was on weekend call
  • Monday, 6/6: X-rays, Office visit with GP, who made a referral to a urologist
  • Tuesday, 6/7: Lab visit for blood and urine workup
  • Wednesday 6/8: Additional X-rays
  • Thursday, 6/9: Office visit with urologist
  • Friday, 6/10: Pre-op workup at hospital, with additional blood and urine workup
My medical outlay over the past 10 days: $25. That's $15 for a co-pay at my GP's office, plus a $10 copay on a bottle of Extra-Strength Vicodin. The urologist did not require a co-pay, nor were there charges at the X-ray or medical labs.
I shudder to think what the costs would have been were I not one of the "lucky" Americans with employer-provided healthcare (for which I pay significantly, by the way).
The pain was so intense the first night that I considered going to the emergency room, and might have if I did not fear emergency rooms on Friday nights more than pain, and if a fourth wave had come on before I fell asleep.
But the emergency room might have been my only option if I did not have insurance.
I'm quite sure that poor people get kidney stones. I don't like thinking they should have to suffer more pain than I did, without proper care. I would be more than willing to pay a higher tax rate to ensure a system that provided everyone with health care. I think most Americans who have suffered health-related pain would agree.
I consider supporting universal health coverage a moral value. And I am outraged that the "values" crowd and their political heroes do not support this issue. Ted Kennedy is calling it "Medicare For All." Sign me on.
I lived for a few years in the United Kingdom, and thoroughly enjoyed the convenience of the national health system. No paperwork, no co-pays, doctors who are in the profession because they care, and not because it affords them membership in exclusive country clubs.
Bring it on.