The Ortho-Supermarket


All of you who read me regularly know that several weeks ago I fractured a number of bones on the top of my left foot; I think they are called tarsals or meta-tarsals.  Whatever.

You can read all about the original incident here:

In any case, I am coming along fine.  I have been wearing a cast for the last two weeks.  Yesterday I saw the bone doctor (he does only feet) who removed the cast, took x-rays and proceeded to put me in a somewhat smaller cast for two more weeks.

“Try not to walk on it.”

“Doc do I look like Pharaoh to you?  Do you think there is a sedan chair outside with 8 nubile young women waiting to carry me around?”   I walked out of his office to my car.  I have crutches but they are useful only if you are young; when you’re 74 they are impossible to use without risking life and limb.

Back to the interesting part of this adventure.

This week as one of his first orders of business President Trump signed some executive order which will begin the end of Obamacare, the Affordable Care Act under which some 20 plus million people have obtained health insurance.

As an old guy I have Medicare, which pays 80% of my healthcare costs.  I have a supplemental policy which covers the remaining 20% not covered by Medicare.  It is interesting that the supplemental policy which covers only the 20% not covered by Medicare costs twice as much as the Medicare policy itself.  All hail the private sector.

So a couple of weeks ago on a Saturday I visited the emergency room of our local hospital and told them at the desk that I believe my foot is broken.

“Name?  Address?  May I have your insurance cards please?”

After demonstrating my ability to pay I am sent off to the broken bone room to see a young doctor of bones.  There must have been something in the Florida air that day; by the time I was through there were three of us with fractured foot or ankle bones.

After the x-ray comes the official announcement of a fracture.  There would however be no “treatment”.  No cast on the foot.  My foot was put in a splint.  Strictly a temporary solution designed to hopefully not make things worse.  My guess is that this is what you got when you broke a foot in the middle ages.

I was given a referral to a bone doctor at the orthopedic supermarket across the road; a large group practice of many doctors each with their own bone specialties.   The son of my primary care physician practices there; he only does hands, wrists and elbows.

Now I take such instructions with aplomb,  I have insurance.

Trust me on this; you were not getting to see a doctor at the supermarket without insurance.  Not without a large cash deposit in the absence of insurance.

This ortho-supermarket practically wanted a blood sample indicating I could pay before I got to see a doctor.  This place is ALL about the money.

So what do you do if you don’t have insurance?  Millions may find out in the next year or two.  Many of the poor are currently covered under Medicaid but the Republicans are determined to cut funding for that program too.  Here in Florida our Governor and legislature routinely cut Medicaid funding.

Currently under Obamacare many have policies with very large deductibles.  For many, having to pay the first $5,000 or so in medical costs before the policy kicks in means it really is of little use in treating a broken foot.  The ortho-supermarket would want their money up front from the patient before treatment.  This place don’t do billing.

Medicare has an annual deductible of $183.  The Ortho-supermarket collected it from me lest I visit again in two weeks owing them money.  I pointed out that the emergency room would have billed Medicare first and it is they who might bill me for the annual deductible.  Not to worry.  “If that happens you will have a credit here.”

And so our new President and the GOP move forward in repealing the insurance coverage of millions while nothing has been done about a replacement.  Don’t hold your breath.

I guess it’s let them die.  Or hobble around with a splint.  That’s the way it used to be n the good old days.

I sent an email to our illustrious Senator Marco this week demanding that he consider his constituents.  There are over 1.5 million Floridians on Obamacare.  I asked that he not vote for repeal in the absence of a replacement program.  Put your constituents first.

I got a very nice “Thank you for contacting me” reply.  Not a word about the subject matter.   Just an empty suit.





About toritto

I was born during year four of the reign of Emperor Tiberius Claudius on the outskirts of the empire in Brooklyn. I married my high school sweetheart, the girl I took to the prom and we were together for forty years until her passing in 2004. We had four kids together and buried two together. I had a successful career in Corporate America (never got rich but made a living) and traveled the world. I am currently retired in the Tampa Bay metro area and live alone. One of my daughters is close by and one within a morning’s drive. They call their pops everyday. I try to write poetry (not very well), and about family. Occasionally I will try a historical piece relating to politics. :-)
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10 Responses to The Ortho-Supermarket

  1. Absolutely terrifying for everyone. I wonder how long it will be before those who voted for him realise what they’ve done. Take care, Frank. x

    Liked by 1 person

  2. jfwknifton says:

    Your health care seems almost third world for poorer people. Thank God we have the National Health Service.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. beetleypete says:

    I echo John’s comment. Reading this (and other similar stories) I am ever thankful for the great care we receive from the NHS in the UK. Despite its faults, and the constant snipes at it, we are undoubtedly in another world, as regards proper heath care.
    Move to the UK, Frank. Property in Norfolk is cheap, and there are less mosquitoes! (And no alligators at all!) I know, you would not be eligible for the NHS, but it would still be a lot cheaper!
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 1 person

    • toritto says:

      Hi Pete – No joke. My daughters have asked me to claim my dual Italian citizenship which would give them a place to go if it ever became necessary. My eldest would go to England if it was still permitted given Brexit! Regards from Florida

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Isn’t it nice living in a third world country? I’ve always had to choose between eating (almost) healthy, going to a doctor or going to a dentist. I was never able to afford all three so I only went to a doctor when pain prevented me from working and only went to a dentist when pain prevented me from eating.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I don’t even know what to say, I am that mortified!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Vic says:

    I had some similar experiences this past fall and early winter, with my total knee replacement. About a month prior to my scheduled surgery, the hospital had pre-determined my bill based on my remaining deductible, followed by 80/20 co-pays, followed by the annual max out of pocket limit of $2,250 per person, the hospital already wanted me to prepay the sum of approx. $1800. They asked me how I was planning to pay. I explained that the insurance plan (through my former employer), negotiates the charges and makes their payment, after which I am supposed to get billed for the difference. Also, I had several other pending charges, my pre-screening visits, etc. that were not yet billed and would certainly reduce my remaining charges before the hospital actually billed. Two weeks prior to the surgery at my pre-anesthesia screening, I was asked to provide a credit card again to prepay. I explained again. On the morning of the surgery, scheduled for check-in at 5:30am I was gently asked again if I was planning on paying. I responded “bill me later.” After all was said and done, for two and a half days and two nights in the hospital, following the separate surgeon’s and anesthesia bills, the final bill from the hospital was somewhere in the area of $250 on a bill upwards of $43,000. If I had prepaid the hospital as they asked, I would have actually overpaid if I gave in to their insistence to pre-pay. The hospital charges covered pre-surgical, recovery room, nursing staff, infrastructure, equipment, etc., drugs, PT. Fortunately the quality was excellent.

    Liked by 1 person

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