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Posted on Friday, March 17th, 2006

Dave!I've written ad nauseam about my profound disappointment in the United States Government to provide adequate health care for its citizens, but it's never been written from personal experience. It's always been an observation of other people struggling... elderly people who can't afford to buy medicine... people who can't afford to go to the doctor when they get sick... things like that.

Until today.

Because today I received my medical bill from the little trip I took to the emergency room for kidney stones a couple weeks ago. The grand total? $2762.77, which is about the price of a brand new, top-of-the-line Apple Power Mac G5.

The good part (if you really look for it) is that I have health insurance to help out. Unfortunately, my deductible means I have to pay $1250 before my insurance actually kicks in, which is about the price of a new Apple iMac.

In order to help people like me with that deductible, the government is generously allowing its citizens to create "Health Savings Accounts", where you are allowed to put in your deductible amount each year, and not pay taxes on it. So I go to open up my HSA at the bank today, only to find that any account with a balance under $2500 will have a monthly service fee of $2.50. And since my account will have a balance of $0 after I pay out for my expenses, I will be effectively paying $30.00 a year to save any money on my taxes.

What a brilliant f#@%&ing idea.

Seriously, when are people going to get sick of this shit and start rioting in the streets? How much worse does it really have to get?

Dave Anarchy

American citizens have to pay huge insurance premiums that still result in huge bills... but not huge enough to deduct from your taxes (unless said expenses exceed 7.5% of your income). Bad enough that the wealthiest nation on the planet makes us pay for all this shit in the first place... but to tax you on top of it? WHAT THE F#@&?!?

If the government is going to make me pay my own medical expenses so I can stay healthy, thus be able to work, thus be able to pay taxes on what I actually earn... why should I have to pay taxes on ANY medical expense? Would they rather we just not go to the doctor and die? How can you collect taxes from somebody who's DEAD you dumbass f#@%ers?!? Are you trying to encourage people to not earn any money so they can go on welfare and get their medical care that way? Stupid. Stupid. STUPID!!

Does this make sense to anybody? Anybody at all?

You shouldn't need to pay a bank $30 to save a minimal amount on your taxes if you need medical attention... you should be able to claim ANY medical expenses on your taxes as a deduction simply by saving a receipt. This is the least... the absolute VERY LEAST... our government can do for the people they are f#@%ing over.

Happy f#@%ing St. Patrick's Day.

Categories: DaveLife 2006, DaveToons 2006Click To It: Permalink


  1. claire says:

    It does suck. My health insurance premium is huge even with a $5000 deductible since it’s not through a group plan; it will only payoff if I get hit by a bus or something extreme. They all suck.

    I don’t know what the interest rate on the medical savings acct is, but is up to 4.5% and it has no fees or minimums. Your interest will get taxed, but it won’t put you behind at least.

  2. Dave2 says:

    Except my balance is now $0, and I can’t put any more money in it this year.

    What a fabulous plan! 🙂

  3. Chase says:

    I’m one of the ones without any insurance at all. I’m self-employed but can’t afford the $9328723987298347 a month they want for insurance, so I just wing it. Even if I get a really bad cold, I’m pretty much F#@KED.

    I’m right there with ya, anarchy Dave.

  4. Brandon says:

    Being the husband of a socialist doctor (in this regard), I hear about this topic all of the time and it is so completely ridiculous. We are one of the few westernized countries that suffer from this health care bullshit and it is time that something happens. Unfortunately, because of so many forces, I doubt a health care system that makes any sense will ever be put in place.

    In so many ways, what makes America great also makes America crap. It’s a weird contradiction that is so hard to reconcile when you are a devout capitalist like myself who also believes strongly in social responsibility.

  5. marie b. says:

    Happy Irish Day.

    Being an (Irish. Woo!) immigrant, I have no insurance and am not eligible for another four months or so.

    I had to pay $3,000 last October for a 5-hour hospital visit – I was dehydrated because of food poisoning, and all they did was give me fluids and a pregnancy test.

    F#@%ing sheisters.

  6. Dave2 says:

    Wow. At least I got drugs out of my $3000 3-hour visit.

  7. marie b. says:

    No drugs for Marie. Now I feel even more gipped.

  8. ms. sizzle says:

    that really, really sucks. and sadly, i think it will be a long time coming until anyone riots. people are too busy watching celebrity fit club.

    hope the weekend improves things.
    🙂 sizzle

    p.s. it’s hawt when you swear. 😉

  9. margalit says:

    Don’t assume that people on welfare get health insurance. They don’t always. Let’s talk about the disabled. If you make too much money on SSDI your health insurance is cut off. Yup, cut off. You can’t live on SSDI by itself because it pays so little, you’re disabled so you NEED to have health insurance, right? But the government being the total assholes they are make you wait TWO FULL YEARS beyond your filing date until you get medicare. Two years where medicaid won’t pay for you, and you can’t get medicare, and you’re disabled and need health insurance more than just about anyone else. Splain that, Lucy!

    I have no health insurance for the above reason. But… because I’m below the poverty level, I do qualify for ‘freecare’. So, I choose a hospital, and being in Boston I of course choose the best Harvard Teaching Hospital, and I get all my health care free. Even my prescriptions. But to get them I have to call 72 hours in advance, then go to the hospital and wait in a long long long line with all the other people on freecare, to pick up the prescriptions at the freecare pharmacy. Yes, the meds are free, which is great, but couldn’t they get the RX’s ready in less than 3 full days? Like, when you’re sick and need it right away?

    I just do not get it. They deny the sickest health care. They make it so hard to get the healthcare coverage that they have to, by law, offer you. And this is supposed to be a safety net???

  10. well the good news then is that the new US budget cuts 230 billion from medicare. I used to think Britian had the worst health-care (like my friend in high-dependancy on a ventalator in a room, in the summer, with 10 other people and no air conditioner). Now I have moved to Canada which means I won’t be able to afford to ever go to a dentist again and need to get in line now for medical tests I might need in a few years.

    But I guess hearing your story that I am pretty well off. No wonder so many Americans are so extremely religious – making sure that God stops you from getting sick is the only way to stay off the streets. (New Motto: America! Where you don’t need health care, you just need to pray….really hard.)

  11. Patrick says:

    I’m not at all sure about this, I have to look it up in detail, but the similar care and hospital visits in Sweden would, from what I’ve quickly read on some gov’t websites, end up at about 1000-2000 Swedish Crowns (about $130-$260).
    I believe this is due to the fact that we have a high cost protection that kicks in at 900 Crowns per year of health care costs and 1800 Crowns of medication costs.

    I’ll get back after I’ve consulted my mother who’s in the health care line of work.

  12. Dave2 says:

    Hey… can your mom get me a CAT scan for $130 ??

    That would make it cheaper for me to fly to Sweden the next time I get kidney stones than going to the hospital here.

  13. Patrick says:

    Nah, sorry. But if you’re 70+ years old or so, she could help you get dressed and showered. 🙂

  14. Dave2 says:

    Well that’s not going to help much… though sometimes I need help getting dressed in the morning NOW… never-mind 30 years from now!

  15. Bec says:

    Being in the UK with the NHS that ‘works’ in so many lovely ways I can sympathise without having to… although… dentists… my last bill was over £500 (about $880) I almost wanted to live with the toothache!
    I have Private Medical Insurance to guarantee some kind of care where I am not going to end up worse than I was. (God bless Britain and all that…)
    But, yeah, it sucks hard, and you definitely have it worse. The bills are astronomical in the US. A single precription charge here (a course of medication) is £6.50 ($11.40) which is nothing compared to the obscene prices you will pay.
    Hmmm… Happy St Patricks Day…

  16. NetChick says:

    Oh the joys of being an American. Thankfully, I’m Canadian, which means we get practically free healthcare, but it also means that we occasionally die waiting for the free medical system to keep up with demand.

    But, hey, what’s a few dead people when we get free (well, almost free) care?

    ps: I still laugh when my boyfriend, who’s American, says regularily “What do you mean there’s no deductible?” And, “You mean, I can actually go to a doctor, and I don’t pay a dime for the visit?” — Yep, he’s still getting used to the system.

  17. Dave2 says:

    Maybe some people are going to the doctor who don’t need to be then? They go for every little thing because it’s free?

    I think if you show up with a hang-nail or for some other equally stupid reason, the doctor should be able to shoot you right there in the office.

    Maybe that will speed up the process?? Because, if somebody has to die, it might as well be the people who deserve it.

  18. RW says:

    I think in a state of Anarchy there’s probably even less coverage. Heh.


    That was pretty brilliant…

  19. Dave2 says:

    That’s actually better than some people get now, which is LESS than “less” coverage! They can’t even get looked at by a doctor because they don’t have an insurance card. That’s NO coverage! 🙂

  20. Brent says:

    Great post. I really respect this entry, Dave. Cheers.

  21. RW says:

    Catholic Charities hospitals turn no one away. My wife works in one. They are few and far between though, and not many people realize what they do.

  22. RW says:

    Anyway – maybe you’re not eating enough pork!

  23. Karla May says:

    Testify!! Preach! Amen.

    The other thing I loathe is that that medical billing/insurance billing is so consistently fucked up and convoluted, that the only ONLY smear against my credit history EVER is due to stupid medical bills that I never received. They were sent to addresses I either a) never had or b) hadn’t lived at for at least 3 years. And it is so damn difficult to get things removed from your credit report. Even if it’s stupid shit like this where you are a completely innocent victim. It’s bad enough to be sick enough to require medical attention or worse yet, a trip to the hospital. But then to add insult to injury (literally) by billing the fuck out of you and/or misbilling you then screwing up your credit report. It’s nauseating.

  24. Michelle says:

    What a coincidence! for the past few days i have been considering calling my insurance company and making them explain this retarded system. i’m kinda new to this whole thing. can’t i just stay on my parents insurance forever? I have a $1800 deductable, and i pay like $120 a month for that; but my doctor’s visits and perscriptions aren’t going to reach 1800 in a year, maybe 1000, so that’s like $2440 a year. that’s more than my deductable, but nothing was covered! who are the scam artists who thought up this system?!? but i’m sure the minute i stop having insurance, i’ll get into a car accident or something.
    ‘k that’s my rant.

  25. Earl says:

    I’m with you, man. I had to wait almost year to get insurance (I had just missed the open enrollment period and had a pre-existing condition). Then by the time the money I paid each month was taken out, I didn’t have enough left over to pay the co-pays for the doctor visits, much less the co-pays for prescriptions. I would almost be better off getting fired, collecting unemployment, and sitting around all day at the community health center to get medical care. Viva la revolution!

  26. Chanakin says:

    Great topic! Every time you hear a hospital or insurance company say they’re “not-for-profit”, Google an image of their facility.

    I also heard the G5 will help you do minor procedures in the comfort of your own home. Something to think about.

  27. Rabbit says:

    My favorite miserable healthcare experience was the time I got dragged to the ER because I was so sick I couldn’t even walk anymore. About an hour and $900 later, the doctor told me, “Yeah, you have the flu. We can’t do anything for you.”

    I told the worried boyfriend who thought he was saving my pitiful life, “Whatever it is next time, let me die. I bet a funeral is cheaper.”

  28. James Bow says:

    “Maybe some people are going to the doctor who don’t need to be then? They go for every little thing because it’s free?”

    Well, first you need to FIND a doctor, first, and that’s easier said than done. 🙂

    Seriously, there are limits to the Canadian coverage. The Canadian insurance program works by specifying how often you should see your doctor for a check-up, et cetera. If you say within that prescription, your medical expenses are free. If you go beyond that, however, then medical coverage ends and you have to pay for the visit. And some things aren’t covered, like dentistry and (in Ontario) optometry.

    This doesn’t apply to emergencies, of course, and other medical issues. To buffer against that, we do have walk-in clinics that can help users treat colds and stuff. And if you have to visit the hospital, well that’s free too.

    Midwifery is covered, which makes Erin and I big fans of the Canadian system. We had quality care of our newborn from 13 weeks into the pregnancy straight through to 6 weeks after birth. We had a major hospital stay to deliver the baby (through C-section) and recuperate. Total cost of the whole procedure: $125 — mostly because we splurged for a semi-private room.

    Your kidney stones strikes me as an emergency medical procedure. Had you been in Canada, you would have been treated for free, and fairly promptly too.

  29. RW says:

    Come the Revolution I’ll buy you a new hat. Until then some factoids that may be of service.

    Check out- THIS LINK for what hospitals may and may not say to you.

    Also note that not all HSAs are born alike. Some like THIS ONE offer no fee plans if certain conditions are met, and the conditions are not always a terrible hardship.

    And, like I said, there are Catholic hospitals that will turn no one away. Actually that’s not totally true – they WILL get after you if you can afford it and are just trying to get free service. But places like ALEXIAN BROTHERS near Chicago take on people with low income and/or no insurance and are later reimbursed by the government.

    We should actually be pretty thankful we have ANY insurance and WHATEVER co-pays for our little problems. Catastrophic illnesses in low income families are devastating, and the safety net to catch it is small.

    Ok now that I’ve ruined the party….

  30. LarryB says:

    Agreed. Our health care system bites.

    Interestingly, business get to completely write off the amount they pay in insurance or as medical fees for their employees if they self-insure. Once again, businesses get benefits that people don’t.

    Right now, I have truly amazing health insurance as a benefit from my employer. But not long ago, I had to buy my own insurance and all I can say is thank god for Kaiser Permanente. Once you manage to get in the door (by proving you’re not too sick for health insurance) they provide good coverage at a reasonable rate. I had to apppeal my way in, because at 5′ 11″ and 220 lbs (at the time, down to 205 now!), I was officially too fat for health insurance.

    Before my grandmother died, I was sending her $500 per month to pay for her medications. She had to have a health crisis from skipping her meds before she let anyone know what was going on. I’m glad that I was able to help (even while I was out of work) but I’m angry that the situation even happened at all.

    I say, let’s can some corporate welfare and use the proceeds to provide baseline coverage for everybody. Companies can offer supplemental coverage as a benefit. Doctors can still be private businesspeople, pharma can still print money, and we could all be healthier, if only from having less stress about staying covered.

    It’s a sick, sick system we have. Congress should have to buy individual policies for themselves and their families. Then we might get some real change.

  31. Dave2 says:

    I would settle for “affordable” health care… it doesn’t even have to be free. But $3000 for a 3-hour trip to the emergency room for kidney stones?!? Luckily, I only have to pay half that, but still $1500 ?? And heaven help me if it happens again or something else goes wrong… my deductible may now be in effect, but I’ll be paying full taxes on the 20% I’d owe. Taxes… ON MEDICAL EXPENSES THAT ARE ALREADY FAR TOO EXPENSIVE.

    At first I was shocked that medical expenses are treated and taxed like luxuries… but reality dictates that health care IS a luxury here. And only the wealthy can really afford it. Heaven help you if you’re poor… or even middle-class. I think it’s absurd that people can experience a medical emergency, then have their life ruined, all because they couldn’t afford insurance. They spend the rest of their lives trying to pay off huge debt that’s more than the insurance would have ever been, which they couldn’t afford in the first place.

  32. LarryB says:

    Dave – One thing to note is that your co-pay is 20% of the negotiated rate that your insurance company has beaten out of the provider. For example, I recently needed an endoscopy. The full price was about $2,500, my insurance company’s cost was $1,600, If I had a 20% copay, it would have been about $320, not $500.

    So, the uninsured get doubly screwed. They have to pay a lot more than insurers do, for services that are harder to access. And now it’s harder to file for bankruptcy.

    You’re right, we do treat health care like a luxury good, and the way things are going, with the new HSA’s it will be. More people will die of things they could have been treated for. The overall message is that ordinary people should go without access to doctors, and that illness is a moral failing or a punishment from god. (It always comes back to radical Calvinist Christianity in this country.) Sorry for the rant, but this subject really gets my blood boiling, even though I probably have the best health insurance in the country right now.

  33. Neil T. says:

    My personal experience with the British healthcare system has actually been quite good. There are always horror stories but as it’s all essentially free to everyone you can’t complain too loudly.

  34. Wayne Hall says:

    I’ll just save everyone a lot of time reading my comment and simply mention that I’m a white, middle class Republican raised by parents that went from nothing to abundancy through 20+ years of hard work and entrepreneurship, I’ve served in the military and have always made sure I had a decent job and always made sure my family was covered in terms of healthcare (wife of 14yrs, 4yr old and 11yr old). For most people, knowing my situation defines my views on this topic.

    I will add that I have a completely different list of things worth rioting over. But most intelligent people would deduce from my short bio above a pretty accurate list.

    Dave, your blog is really really cool. If you stopped blogging, I would likely riot.

  35. Luke says:

    true dat. Doctors drive way too nice of cars to be considered alturistic anymore. The day of a doctor going into private practice to help people is as gone as Marcus Welby.

  36. Cristy says:

    Here’s a little food for thought: US Peace Corps volunteers get the best health care coverage in the world while they’re volunteers. You need to visit a doctor? No problem – go see an American trained and Peace Corps employed doctor in the capital city. Your travel exprenses to the capital, your hotel, your food, your doctor’s visit and your meds are all covered. No co-pay or anything. Need an ambulance sent from the capital city to your village EIGHT HOURS AWAY to pick you up? No problem. Need to be helicoptered from West Africa to Paris or Washington, D.C? Sure….it’s one hundred percent free.

    Granted, Peace Corps volunteers need this kind of coverage due to the health risks they encounter in isolated villages in developing countries, but I know volunteers who were sent from West Africa to South Africa just to get a PAP smear.

    So the US actually takes care of its people on this one…congrats to them. So how such a great government program can exist next to the disaster of the American health care system is beyond me….

  37. Deb_LA says:

    We def need to do something. I got really sick when I was between jobs immediately following Sept 11th. It was an fing nightmare. No insurance, couldn’t afford it. The best was when I called CalMed which is poor people’s insurance here, they told me I wasn’t poor enough. Um, I was unemployed. WTF? No one would give me insurance for under $600/month and I wasn’t poor enough for the state to help me. That’ll teach me to be in the middle class!

  38. Liz says:

    Dave – I am so glad you have written about this issue. The hospital I work at has been on a mission to get us to cut costs to “decrease the costs of health care”. Last year none of the nurses got bonuses and it looks like we won’t get any this year as well. Right now they are talking about cutting our wages, which are quite honestly shit considering the work we do.

    Someone inadvertently leaked information about one of our 15 VP’s wages though and in one year his salary is $555,000. His bonuses for one year come out to about $400,000. This isn’t even counting all the perks and kickbacks he gets. And this is only one of the 15 VP’s. I have no clue how much the other 14 make but it has to be in the same neighborhood.

    All the other managesrs in the hospital got bonuses as well. And there isn’t any talk of decreasing their salaries or cutting their bonuses. It seems like everytime we turn around there’s talk of another bonus the managers are getting. Basically there’s a whole lot of people getting rich of of your illnesses. This is what healthcare is really about.

    The good ole boy system is alive and well in corporate America.

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