Saturday, September 8, 2007

Medical Mal-pricing

As some of you know, I broke my arm a few weeks ago.

(For those interested in that story, see the post entitled: "In a beautifully choreographed ...")

There are important life lessons to be learned from this experience, namely: Don't anger the Emergency Room staff.

Let me explain. I did not go with a plan to anger the staff, there was no premeditation. Instead, a few hours after the accident, I went to the ER in a relatively calm manner.

At this point the alert reader will note I did not go to the ER right away. Why? (Husbands, world wide, already know the answer.) I had to clean the mess I made before my wife got home.

Anyway, expecting to wait 2 or 3 eons before I would be seen by medically inclined people at the ER, I brought a book to read. Surprisingly, I was admitted immediately. But it was a ploy, the ER people had developed new places to wait, inside the treatment area.

Periodically, medically inclined people would stop by and administer medical things in my general direction, sometimes directly at me. ("A proctology exam??! ... It's my arm! MY ARM!") Mostly, I was waiting with other people in the middle of the ER.

Every once in a while, announced over the loudspeaker, someone who needed more immediate medical attention, (e.g. "Code Yellow", serious but stable), would arrive "by air", i.e. helicopter. Otherwise, after they get those folk stabilized, there was just more waiting.

It was only later did I realize that important decisions I made earlier in life, would affect the the outcome of my current situation. And when I say "important decisions", I mean, picking the appropriate book to read in an ER.

- - - -

I chose to bring a book by the literary giant, Dave "Will Shakespeare" Barry, known to many for his deep, thoughtful, and carefully crafted booger jokes. He writes more than booger jokes; sometimes he ignites strawberry pop tarts and sometimes he explodes toilets. So, he is a true renaissance man.

If you have read any of his material, you may know that you will uncontrollably, and sometimes loudly, snort milk out of your nose. Fortunately, I wasn't drinking milk. But I found myself accidentally laughing loudly, very loudly.

- - - -

While reading the Dave Barry book, I had an outburst of uncontrollable laughing. It was poorly timed. Below is an unre-touched transcript based on the actual event.

Loudspeaker: Code Yellow, by air, 4 minutes
Me: BWAAAAA HA HA HA HA, .... HA HA ....
Families, Patients & ER Staff: (Really loud & stern glaring. Directly at me.)

I did not realize that this faux pas (from the French, faux meaning 'idiot', pas meaning 'says something stupid, out loud.'), would be recorded in my 'Permanent Record'. Yes, the very same 'Permanent Record' that has been in existence since elementary school. In which, every teacher told you, your every misdeed would be recorded. "Young Man! That's going on your 'Permanent Record'!"

Apparently, I had a new entry.

Shortly after this, the ER People did some more medical things at me, referred me to a orthopedist, then shoved me out of the ER with a temporary splint. Apparently, they did not want "my kind" hanging around. "Look at his 'Permanent Record', let's discharge him."

- - - -

After a couple of days of waiting, I was able to see an orthopedist for approximately 37.3 seconds.

His entire conversation with me consisted of:
1) An unintelligible mumble, which translated as, "I don't want to be here, I'd rather be golfing".

2) "You have a break, these heal", which translated as, "You have a break, these heal".

Just kidding, he used a few additional words. But not many. Because it was a clean break, apparently a text-book "night stick wound", I did not need a full cast and was prescribed a brace. See image below.

Ultimately, I had to "co"-pay $165 USD for my brace, (which equals: £82 GBP, €121 EUR, ¥19,213,420,370,841 YEN) . I'm not sure, but I believe my 'Permanent Record' affected the rate of my "co"-pay for the brace

Also, I believe my insurance company had to pay only 3 cents. They haven't paid yet; they are still on the floor laughing because I actually paid the $165.

- - - -

Medical administrator: I need pre-authorization for a forearm brace.
Insurance claims person:
A forearm brace? Sure. ... Wait! Look at his 'Permanent Record' ! I'm only authorizing 3 cents for him. HA HA HA! Have the stooge, I mean the client, "co" pay the balance. HA HA HA HA ...

- - - -

In my humble opinion, $165 is expensive for a piece of mass produced plastic. But I have no one to blame except for my 'Permanent Record'.

Next time I plan to break my arm, I may go to a witch doctor instead. I think that costs only three chickens. Or, I may go to a new-age crystal healing person, that way, they could bill my aura. I've seen my aura's bank statement, he's flush in aura money, and he has a better 'Permanent Record'.

b shaw

PS. This is a joke image, you can't actually buy a forearm brace on a TV shopping channel. Who would want to?

PPS. hmmm.....However, shortly, you be may lucky enough to buy this beauty on ebay. It's a one of a kind, exquisite, 'work of art'. I'm sad to part with it. Minimum bid: $165.

(c) 2007