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A Tale of Two (Fatty) Tumors

Mar 16, 11:25 AM -- by Chaz

I don’t like to get ‘political’ on these pages. There are already too many clueless, churlish gas bags pretending to know what they’re talking about and I’m certainly not needed to add to the noise. However, I thought I’d share a couple of experiences I’ve had dealing with “health issues” that I think are pretty telling of how bad the health care system has gotten over the years.

First, let me state that I do hope that the health care bill that the US Senate is considering passes, despite it being a steaming, stinking pile of CRAP. It is, however, a start and something that can be fixed. If we don’t do it now, it might well be another decade before we get another chance and things will almost definitely get worse. Sure, it’s like buying a broken down Chevy hoping to wrench back to a purry kitten-ness, but we need to get from point A to point B, don’t we? It is unfortunate that the lobbyists and other people with agendas (our elected officials) have chipped away at it to turn it into the turd that this bill is. It’s a shame it does almost nothing to deal with waste and fraud. It is a shame that we have to settle for it. Vote The Bastards (all of them) out.

Anyway, I’ve known two lipomas in my life. A lipoma is a fatty tumor – a zit with a Napolean Complex, really – and they reside under a few layers of skin. They’re harmless, but unlike a pimple they do not go away on their own. They need to be removed by a health care professional.

My first lipoma popped up some 25 years ago on my right arm just south of the armpit. I was a broke, handsome young thing at the time but it was starting to get a little painful, so off to the doctor I went. The scalpel came out right there in the doc’s office and one hour later, I was one fatty tumor and $50 lighter. 50 bucks.

About 5 years ago another one of these lumpy inconveniences appeared on the left side of my rib cage. My general practitioner referred me to a surgeon. He scheduled me for outpatient surgery and assembled a team. For an overgrown pimple, a team. I went in early in the morning and was out in time for lunch. Final cost? $10,000. Ten thousand dollars. 10k.

Yes, I had insurance for the second one. Perhaps that’s why the surgeon felt the need for a team. But, of course, insurance didn’t cover everything and my out of pocket expenses were more than 10 times what I paid to have the first one removed. On the plus side, I did get some really good pain pills that I didn’t need (it was a zit, people) and all the warm blankets I wanted. I wish I had checked the itemized list to see how much those toasty blankets cost me.

Not quite a health care horror story, is it? I’ve known folks who’ve gone through much, much worse and reform proponents have paraded out stories far more chilling. My little tale is just to point out the difference that 20 years makes – approximately $9950. And a team.

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