Coverage caps

There’s a law in Florida called the Baker Act; a law which gives law enforcement and medical professionals the authority to hold people with mental illness – specifically those who show signs of being a danger to others or themselves.

There are few (if any) public facilities to provide this emergency care, so patients are cared for in private facilities… usually a floor set aside at the local hospital (the so called “psych ward”).

Since these institutions often are not publicly funded, “Baker Acted” patients are expected to pay for their care. Since most health insurance policies in the U.S. have unconscionable caps on the number of days covered in a 12 month period, and because mental illness can require extended periods of hospitalization, patients usually pay through the nose.

Because patients without coverage can not easily bargain as a group for the prices paid, patients without coverage usually pay more than insurance companies (for the same services). In fact, hospitals have been known to make up financial losses from insurance contracts with the fees charged to the uninsured.

As it happens, someone close to me is in the hospital, and she used up her hospitalization coverage (which only covered a percentage of the cost anyway) earlier this year. If I’m not mistaken, the bill submitted to insurance earlier this year was in excess of $60,000.

Imagine you had a really good job, with what was considered above average health benefits. Imagine what your finances would look like after paying 20% of a 60k hospital bill, plus 100% of what ever happens from here on out (which looks to be worse this time). Then ask yourself if you still like our health care system as it is.

With all the stress that undoubtedly accumulates in direct proportion to the accumulation of medical bills, it’s a wonder anyone recovers from a hospital stay.


  1. Two fun quotes about American sacred cows:
    “In God we trust” didn’t become a national motto until an act of Congress in 1956. (Although it did appear on U.S. coins as early as the late 1800s… around the USA’s 100th b-day.)

    The pledge of allegiance (which conservative americans will defend to the death) was originally written by a communist (well, he was really more of a socialist – but it’s still a fun fact to rub in their noses).

  2. I take back anything disparaging I may have ever muttered against the Canadian health care system. Regardless of its failings, it doesn’t cause people to go without care or to end up in the poor house. That a country can spend so much to ensure its right to bear arms and so little on the health of its people is beyond understanding. “In God we trust,” indeed. You’d have to hope there was someone or thing to have faith in with a system like this.

Give the gift of words.