State of our Healthcare System: A Firsthand Encounter

I was involved in a car wreck earlier this year. The following is my story and commentary about the goings on. It should serve as an eye opener as far as your opinion of our healthcare system. Due to litigation, no names of doctors/clinics or nurses will be used.

I went to a local urgent care clinic to get my back examined as I had been in extreme pain from a car accident (not my fault). You check in at the counter and are handed a clip board. Also, they request your insurance card, so I produced and surrendered mine to the lady up front.

I started filling out the paperwork and as I was completing the stack of paperwork, the counter lady came out and declared they needed that back. I paused and stated that I was not one filling it out yet and she shot back “your healthcare plan doesn’t cover this.” Adding “unless you have a credit card, we cannot see you here.” She is correct, I knew this going into this visit. I have what is called a garbage policy…sorry…the politically correct term is an Obamacare bronze plan.

If you rewind to pre-Obamacare, I had the same plan: 5k deductible, 20% co-pay, and it ran $75 a month. Keep in mind I buy my own plan as an employer sponsored one is not available to me as an independent contractor. Fast forward to today. The same plan costs me $450 a month. Keep in mind this; I am very healthy and active swimming a mile every morning, lifting weights in afternoon, I do not drink anymore and have never touched any tobacco/drug product. But I digress, back to my story.

Same plan: Before Obamacare $75, after Obamacare $450

The visit costs $100 and I had a valid credit card. William and I have both spoken about the dangers of credit card debt in this space, of which I have none. They swiped the card, and I was good to go. Keep in mind if my card didn’t work or I did not own one, they would have referred me to a very, very expensive doctor also known as the emergency room. Imagine that, going to the ER for a backache, which would have resulted in a chiropractor or physical therapy referral anyways. Keep in mind, that visit could very well have cost several thousand, and well I guess I could pay, or not pay.

I saw the doctor. She prescribed some pain pills and said see you in a couple days. A few days later, lather, rinse, repeat, additional pain killers, and come back in a couple days. On my third and final visit, they finally took x-rays, I was then referred to a physical therapist. Take note, it was $100 each visit, plus $115 for x-rays. Which they were happy to collect.

In conclusion, I have no hard feelings toward this clinic, they are for profit, and obviously cater to a crowd of people like myself who have healthcare plans that are not ideal but are required to comply with law. They, unlike traditional doctors, are under no obligation to see you. I harbor no ill will regarding their initial actions toward me, since, I firmly believe in no pay, no play. As far as I am concerned, I would endorse these clinics as the first stop for all Obamacare users. We need to keep our ER for what they were made for; emergencies, not as the only option for poor/illegal/horrible healthcare plans. That being said, it is disturbing they were willing to schlep me over there to pay quite a large sum of money, and take valuable time and a room at the ER due to a sore back.

I wish to offer a solution. The urgent care needs to be the first visit for those of us who cannot see a primary care physician. This holds especially true for those on zero cost Obamacare. We need to allow the ER to be used for real emergencies, my sore back is not an emergency. The Urgent Care should serve as a “gate keeper” and be a referral center, this will free up doctors elsewhere and lower the costs for everyone.

It may not be the perfect answer, but we need something, visiting the ER for a sore back is a horrible policy—both medically and financially.