What does a good healthcare system look like?

I earn well. I should have a bigger retirement plan than I do as my husband and I manage to manage our living expenses and I am a moderately successful self-employed person. However, every few years, or sometimes a few years in a row, I see our household go bankrupt from the medical-industrial complex.

This year has been uniquely devastating. My husband is a 75 year old bone cancer survivor. Two years of radical chemotherapy left him with a suppressed immune system, meaning we hid from humans for most of the pandemic the way gremlins hide from sunlight.

A few years ago, he had a two-year bout of C. diff that cost thousands to treat. He finally beat it.

A long-term result of the C. diff left bacteria in his teeth and gums, resulting in him requiring $25,000 worth of dental work. He lost his upper teeth, now has upper dentures and had to do serious gum work on all of his lower teeth. Medicare covered a small portion of that. Dental work is not considered to be insurable in this country. And without the dental care, he would have developed sepsis and died.

Those expenses were in addition to his Medicare deduction from his Social Security and his $471-a-month co-payment for the medication plan.

We’ve had some really INCOMPETENT GPs over the years. We found a great doctor in 2006. He was independent. Didn’t take out insurance. fee for service. Had studied at Loma Linda Hospital. Great testimonials. Finally a great family doctor. His wife, a Harvard-trained attorney who had retired from the legal profession, ran his practice. Well, with the COVID pandemic, his wife burned out on medical treatment, in part because of all the deaths they had to deal with. And she’s had a few COVID deaths in her own family. He entered a boutique primary care practice effective January 1, 2022 after his wife retired from medical administration. It is no longer subject to a fee. He became a concierge. He’s taking out insurance now. But the annual “concierge fee” for 2022 was $3,000 per patient per year. For 2023, it increases to $4,000 per patient.

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Then there are MY medical expenses. My insurance is $1,189 per month for the second largest insurance. Next year it will go up 14 percent. I have arthritic knees as I have been a 10-15 mile per week runner since my late teens to early 30’s. At 6ft 1 I am a candidate for a knee prosthesis. Prednisone was making me gain weight and I was already heavy so I needed to get off it. Humira had all the effects of a sugar pill. I’m immune to the benefit. So my arthritis doctor put me on an IV with biologic drugs.

These treatments, of which I had three, had a co-payment of $1,468 each. And on top of that they did absolutely nothing! I was fired by my arthritis doctor when I told him that it was professionally irresponsible for him and his staff to prescribe such an expensive treatment without first informing me of the cost. They felt it was not their job.

I’m getting a knee replacement next year. Living on painkillers and Toradol (an injectable anti-inflammatory) I can’t wait until 65 when Medicare picks up the full bill. My health insurance cap is $8,800. i will hit that And I have a tooth that is going out and needs to be replaced with an implant. That’s another $4,000 next year.

There is a silver lining in all of this. My husband is a French citizen. He has family all over the country. Nice people. In 2024 we sell our house and move to the southwest of France. As it turns out, since the world has gone virtual during the pandemic, I can serve my clients from anywhere. And so over a third of my practice is outside of the region where I live. With the equity in our house, we can use leftover money to buy a beautiful house in the Dordogne. Our taxes will increase only slightly. Our medical costs will fall by more than two-thirds, and only if we choose world-class healthcare. I really love this country. I just can’t afford the medical care here anymore.

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