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Friday, August 28, 2009

Heart Surgery In a couple hours

So I've been recovering at home in what I assume is the traditional fashion.

No unexpected complications to relate... just the healing process. Had my first follow-ups with surgeons & cardiologists which seem to have gone well, so it seems like these folks have saved my bacon, as it were.

As mentioned earlier this thread, I fall into a category of preexisting, & therefore non-insurable cardio-treatment. Which basically means I'm on the hook for 100% of the costs associated with this experience. This makes me a poster-boy for medical reform efforts in the US I suppose...

The short version is I'm a 45 year old male with a pretty typical history of medical care, as well as professional history. I have been working since 14 years of age in a variety of occupations, the last 20 years of which have been as a professional technologist. I started at $2.10/hour way back when, (minimum wage) & worked my way up the wage ladder over these many years to the 6 figure guy I am today.

It's been a rocky ride between 1975 & today, with many ups & downs along the way; both personal & financial.

The vast majority of this time I have been contributing to mandatory taxation including Social Security contributions, as well as voluntary insurance programs mostly sponsored by my employers. I'd be hard-pressed to give an accurate total for these contributions over the decades, but it's certainly been many 10's of thousands of dollars.

Fast-forward to a period where my Cobra extended insurance coverage expired before I managed to procure new employment-sponsored insurance, and we find my first cardiac event. This of course makes all subsequent heart-related medical events preexisting as far as insurers are concerned, and therefore un-insurable.

The result of this timeline of events is of course, massive amounts of debt.

Multiple trips to the stint lab for angioplasty plus this latest bypass procedure adds up to about a million bucks in debt. This excludes doctor visits, prescriptions etc... I'm paying for all of this "out of pocket" as it were, which is, of course, absurd on it's surface. It effectively makes me a medical share-cropper for life. No possibility of repaying this debt in my lifetime, and therefore in perpetual servitude to the medical-industrial community in perpetuity. To be fair, this beats the alternative... these folks saved my life... no doubt. And I also have a keen appreciation of the triage process which much have occurred prior to this bypass surgery in my favor. A panel of medical folks who were well aware that I'd never repay the debt generated by this procedure, made a decision to perform the surgery anyway. What a nightmare decision this must be, especially since they must get confronted with multiple instances representing individual lives on a regular basis. Our system is literally forcing life/death choices on medical administrators, surgeons & doctors across the country.

So where do we assign blame/responsibility for this condition?

My fault for failing to get new insurance coverage and prevent gaps in coverage?
Insurance companies for excluding preexisting conditions?
Medical device/service providers for the incredible costs of these systems?

All the above?
More?

And where do we go from here?

Since I can't possibly pay for the accumulated debt of these treatments, this financial burden will fall onto the shoulders of taxpayers & insured consumers at the end of the day, in the form of higher taxes & higher premiums.

In a world of shrinking resources, what will be the criteria our medical community employs to determine who receives these heroic measures... & who does not?

I am of course grateful beyond words to be here to write this post, and my thanks goes out to all of the people who made this possible for me. But if you're gonna save Aaron from peakoil.com, you're gonna get some pointed questions eventually which are directly related to energy, resource depletion, financial fidelity & the moral/practical application of these concepts to individual humans, and society as a whole.

As always, your thoughts & comments are most welcome...