Healthcare - or why we don't live in the best country in the world

I just read this post over at Scribbling in San Antonio, and it inspired me to tell our nightmare healthcare story. I'm sharing this because it infuriates me that people are actually against healthcare reform.

When we first moved here to Kentucky, we were pretty broke. We fell into that great divide, of not being poor enough to qualify for Medicaid, but not really making near enough to afford our own healthcare. And of course, neither of our workplaces offered benefits. One summer evening, we and several other parents were out in the street, chatting and enjoying the late rays of summer while the kids ran from porch to porch playing. Suddenly, and with no warning we heard a scream which immediately turned to a hysterical cry. We sprinted next door to find our three-year-old daughter laying in the dirt. She'd fallen off one of the porches, which was about a six foot drop. Although she was lying in the dirt, no one had seen her fall, and she was inches away from concrete. We brought her inside, and her face immediately began to swell. One look at it and we were on our way to the hospital. It was probably about 9:30 at this point. While sitting in triage, she threw up all over me - so she likely had a concussion. We were terrified. They got us into a room, and eventually got her into the CAT scan. This was truly horrible at this point, because it was so late that she kept dozing off, which of course she can't do. And she's sick, and now has to be put into this frightening machine, which is holding her hurt head in a vice. When we got back to the waiting room we were completely freaked out not only by her injury but at the considerable bill that was racking up with every second. The doctor came in and told us they wanted to monitor her overnight. My husband said no, that we just couldn't afford it. The doctor gave us some time to talk it over, after strongly suggesting that we stay. It was probably 3AM at this point, and I was a wreck.

It was at this point that I had to literally choose between money and my daughter's life.

No one should ever have to make this decision.

We decided to take her home. Because with the overnight stay and the CAT scan and who knows what exorbitant fees they were charging us, she'd be lucky to still have a home after it was all over. We had to sign papers saying that we were willingly leaving the hospital against the doctor's wishes. We then stayed up all night and took turns waking her up at 30 minute intervals and asking her questions. She was not happy, but she turned out okay. Thank goodness she did. That was easily the most frightening experience of my life. My hands shake as I recount this.

We really deserve better as a country.

(and here's a photo of the aftermath, being a child - she bounced back quickly, wish I could say the same for my nerves)


B. Miller said...

WOW - what a nerve-wracking experience. I often worry about what I would do if I were in a bad car accident or had some debilitating disease or had to have surgery. I have no insurance and very little savings, so I'd probably be screwed. I hope American healthcare can be renovated to the point that it can work for all of us again.

ily said...

Uh, that story brings a tear to my eye and a knot to my stomach! I am so fearful of moving home without jobs/healthcare! Public healthcare here is great. It's nice to not have that fear over something happening!

chris said...

I agree, I would be willing to pay more taxes for everyone to have some peace of mind.


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