In a recent update, Gov. Beshear noted that the COVID-19 pandemic emphasized the need for medical insurance for all citizens. It certainly is needed. If a person had severe enough symptoms of the virus to go to the hospital, and did not have coverage would they go? If they went and survived seven days in ICU, who would pay for it? They could decide not to go and die from lack of treatment.

If there is a surge of patients to flood the hospitals with patients, how can they provide services when many people can’t pay? All Americans should have some kind access to basic health care. Unfortunately, having coverage only addresses one part of the problem. Another big factor is often stated in a question, “Why does health care in America cost so much? Why should two days in the hospital put a person in debt for the rest of their lives?”

Let me give you two personal  experiences with health costs. A number of years ago when my wife and I were on vacation in northern Ontario, she had a bicycle accident. She survived a concussion, broken collar bone, six cracked ribs, collapsed lung, and ended up in ICU at the local district hospital. I was at the motel when it happened. They called me and I went over. I said, “I’m here to see Mary Woodring.”

The lady said, “That’ll be $1000.”

I said, “Lady, is she dead or alive. Where is she?”

She apologized, “I’m sorry. I thought you knew and were here to do payments.” They were $1000 a day.

In ICU my wife was still alive, but unconscious. She had no life-threatening injuries. She was in for seven days. On the fourth day, they took her 50 miles down the road to the larger regional hospital for a CAT-scan. The total charges added up to $7000 and my Blue Cross gladly paid it. In Canada at that time, they had flat rate charges. ICU was $1000 a day no matter what they did. The trip for the CAT-scan, for example was just a part of the daily charge.

For myself, two months ago I had my aortic valve replaced at Turkey Creek in Knoxville. I had two pre-op office visits and two post-op visits. I had more test than I can remember. I went in early one morning, had the replacement by noon and spent the night in ICU. I was discharged the next day. The charge on the bill from the Hospital was $356,385.00. The other charges for consults and specialists, etc, comes to about $30,000.00. I’m still getting some bills. It is hard to keep up.

Fortunately, I have Medicare and Blue Cross or I would be liable for $386,385 for the rest of my life. I am really happy to be able walk up six stair steps without having to stop at the third one to keep from fainting. It’s amazing that they can put a tiny plastic tube in the artery of my leg and guide it to put a new valve in my heart. It is wonderful to benefit from modern medical technology. I recognize that I am a white man of privilege for this to happen and hope and pray that our Governor will find ways for all Kentuckians to have health insurance.

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