What is your well-being worth?

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I had my semi-annual visit to my pulmonology specialist yesterday and she recommended a “daily maintenance inhaler” to replace the as-needed inhaler I’ve been using. Do you know what I found out?

What I found out was that shit, AKA umeclidinium-vilanterol, cost $329.00 for a 30 day supply. This is after insurance. It would be cheaper for me to inhale gold dust. But this is only the beginning of this story.

Last year, I went to a urologist because of some bladder pain. He prescribed Mirabegron, which cost $383.00 for a 30 day supply and that was after insurance. And the side effects listed were scary. Instead, I doubled up on the tamsulosin, which costs me $5.00 for a 90 day supply.

I’ve had issues with back pain since 1980. (Don’t get me started in chiropractors; I might write another article on that pile of stinking fraud).  I’ve been able to deal with it until recently, but it had become an almost daily debilitating issue. I visited an orthopedist who gave me some options, one of which was to consult a pain management specialist, which I did. Co-pay of $50.00 for this one, who set me up with an appointment to give me six injections on my spine, which would anesthetize the nerves around the pain areas for 6-8 hours. They had to do this twice to see if it worked, then they could, “burn the nerves” to do away with the pain, which would last about a year. However, the first procedure, which once again would last 6-8 hours, would cost around $3000.00, if my insurance paid 80%. Some simple math means that this procedures total cost would be ~$15k and I had to do this twice before actually getting a procedure that didn’t really address the underlying issue, but just numbs me to the pain. Don’t know how much the last procedure costs, but I’ll bet its a lot.

One more, and this one is really enlightening: In 2007 I was walking my dog and I slipped on something and fell flat on my face. I broke my left arm, left leg and right kneecap (the streets are hard and unforgiving). The Orthopedist sent me to the hospital’s store for one of those big plastic boots that you can pump up for maximum support. A month or so later, I get a bill for them for $475.00 for my co-pay for this boot:

Here it is listed online; notice how much is costs? But the hospital charged $750.00 for it and wanted me to pay the difference. When I asked them why so much, they responded, “That’s how much the insurance company says we can charge for it.” Getting the picture now? What a racket! (I refused to pay; the bill collectors hounded me for about two years, then gave up.)

Here’s how I see it: Without health insurance, you are pretty much screwed if you get sick or injured, because costs are so high. The reason they are so high is to force you to get insured. This keeps the prices high and the pharmaceutical companies and medical suppliers make huge profits that they circulate around each other like a stinking heap of compost. This huge cash flow also keeps a lot of politicians in office, and and so it goes.

Does this sound paranoid and delusional? Does it? DOES IT???

What is needed is some reform here. It’s not like Big Pharma is going broke. Nor do we want them to. But for them to enrich themselves by bankrupting us is not the answer. Capitalism has always had constraints put on it, as greed can beget blindness to others’ needs. Capitalism is based on the love of money and we know what that leads to.

I once had a mechanic tell me, “I’m just trying to make a living. I’m not trying to make a killing.” I liked that attitude; I think most of us feel the same. But money to some is power and they let it go with great reluctance and resistance. There needs to be price controls on pharmaceutical drugs; we US citizens pay far more than other countries. There needs to be a consensus on how much doctors can charge for services. (When I can fly to Spain for a hip replacement and take a three week vacation there for less than what it would cost here for just the procedure…well, you begin to see the picture.)

Maybe it is time for Medicare For All. Health For Profit doesn’t really seem to be working all that well.