Healthcare Ain’t Broke

It is rich. And it is broken.

Recently, the Supreme Court upheld the Affordable Care Act.

Every time my son tries on a pair of shoes, he wants to see how fast they are. Every time. I remember doing this too at his age. Come to think of it, I've done it in the past few years when trying out running shoes on an in-store treadmill under the guise of how they feel with my gait.

A few weeks ago, we were in Florence, Italy, and purchased him a pair of shoes. Of course, he wanted to wear them out of the store – so he did. Then we went to an adult shoe store (Firenze has a lot of scarpe) and that's when he decided to try out the shoe speed limit.

Since Florence (Firenze) has a lot of shoe (scarpe) stores, the stores are small in comparison to shops in the US. So, to make the shops look bigger, they use large wall-mounted mirrors to give the impression the store is larger than it is. My wife turns to our son and simply says, "Let's not run in here either," and turns to try on a pair of hand-made Italian foot cover goodness.


Our son had just run into a 2 meter by 4 meter wall-mounted mirror that could have been older than the US. It shattered. Our son bounced off of it with some eyebrow scratches and a gash on his shoulder. He'd gotten about four good steps into his run down what appeared to be a hallway when this mirror stopped him.

After examining the wound, we called an ambulance. Not because it was life threatening, but because we didn't know how to get to a hospital, hadn't seen an urgent care facility and I didn't have any suture with me. The ambulance arrived and we all got a ride to the area children's hospital (which was great by the way).

Upon entering the ER (something our family is quite familiar with) my wife fishes out the health insurance card and shows it to the front desk. The lady's reply was a hesitant, "Oh, well, we won't need that." My next thought was, "OK, would you provide me with a loan application instead, please?"

The intake nurse's first question was, "What does he weigh?" My hesitant answer was, "65 pounds." We shared a few seconds of yes, we use pounds and you use kilos. Then I pulled out my iPhone and was able to give her what she needed. After the wonderful doctor and PA team cleaned and stitched our son, we were getting wound care instructions from them in their broken English and my broken Italian. There are certain terms one doesn't learn through a couple years of Rosetta Stone and they knew a lot of them.

After we understood what to do and what not to do, the PA simply said, "Ok, it'll all heal well. Have a good evening." My wife and I looked at each other then I asked, in Italian, "What do we do next?" They looked at one another quizzically and said, "There's the exit." "Honey, they're letting us leave – run," was my first thought. But I asked where do we pay. Then they said, "Oh, you don't have to pay." A twenty minute ambulance ride, ER visit, internal and external sutures, PA and doctor attention with a staff of six and Novocain all came up to $0.

That's the plus side of socialized medicine, so I learned. From this experience, I asked some friends living in Italy if doctors are paid well, and it appears its similar to what they make in the states. That also got me thinking, what would happen if this exact thing happened to an Italian in America? They don't have insurance because it's not needed. They'd leave the US with a $30,000 invoice.

The downside of socialized medicine is the length of time some preventative procedures and surgeries like knee replacements take. It could be years before your number is called. I'm sure there are more positives and negatives of socialized medicine and privatized medicine that we have here in the States.

Point being, neither extreme is working well. While the idea of healthcare for everyone is grand, in our current system, this doesn't seem to work well. How I know is that I have friends whose family health insurance went up so much this past year that they are currently without until they sell their house and downsize to help cover the $10,000 annual increase.

Not having socialized medicine puts the responsibility on us as Christians to take care of widows and orphans in this capacity. So, it will cost us. Healthcare always costs someone, all goods and services do. The difference is finding an effective, efficient and cost-appropriate way to take care of the sick.

Pedal harder.

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