But I have season tickets!

I’m a Surgeon.  As part of my hospital privlages, I’m required to take call about 5 to 6 times a month.  Some of the patients will have insurance, some of the patients will not.  I “play them as they lie” to borrow a golf phrase.

Some days are (monitarily) extremely good; everyone has insurance that comes in.  Some days are extremely bad.  As long as the patients do well I’m usually OK with the mix of insured/uninsured.  UNTIL TODAY…

I was consulted on a patient that had been admitted to the hospital for 4 days.  She didn’t have insurance.  She was able-bodied and employed.  Her problem was simple for me to take care of, 30 minutes at the bedside and I was done.

As I was helping her, she told me that she was bummed that she couldn’t go to the Atlanta Falcons game this week (vs. the Saints).   She had season tickets in the second deck of the Georgia dome.  (On stub-hub most of the Falcon’s tickets have been going for more than face value, espically the Saints game. )

Most of the people that I do free appendectomies, gall-bladders, and colon operations for, speak a primary language other than english, and do not have a valid SS number listed in the chart (unless 111-11-1111 is shared by about a million people).  I understand that these day laborers often don’t have the means to pay me and could likely die without treatment.  (The operations I do are often same day/night for a reason) 

I don’t like working for free, but I can help them, they need it, so I do.  It’s part of the oath I took when I finished medical school.

My ticket-lady is entirely diffrent.  She has the means, she just chooses not to pay.  Yes, I can send her a bill.  From experience, I’ll see exactly 0$.  In the last 2 years, out of everyone that is without insurance, I’ve had one person pay me 100$ for treating their colon perforation.  A 2-3 hour operation in the middle of the night and a 5 day hospital stay – 100$…..

It’s patients like these make me want to repeal EMTALA and let people have to beg/bargain for my services when they need them. 

Oh, and BTW – yes, all these people I treat for free can sue me if something goes wrong…. So I’m actually paying (malpractice insurance) for the privlage of treating them.