This reporter has written about San Francisco General,
its plans to rebuild and update
and its on going fund-raising efforts
to provide state-of-the-art medical care and facilities to patients. Little did I know that I would actually be a patient there.
This past Wednesday was a sunny day here in San Francisco and a perfect day for a bicycle ride. The weather not too hot, not cold, just right at 68 to 70 degrees. There are many bike lane routes in the City and one most picturesque is the long stretch of Sunset Boulevard which goes from Golden Gate Park all the way to Lake Merced.
Well, despite my careful riding and diligence in crossing traffic intersections, at Sunset Boulevard and Vicente I stumbled (literally) across a bump on the path from a tree-trunk root that caused the pavement to buckle.
I tried to avoid it as I was not going that fast, or at least I thought I was not. Yet, despite my efforts, as I gently used the brakes I went forward loosing balance and went over the handlebars face first on to the sidewalk.
Ouch! I remember feeling the gravel-asphalt on my face and the pain as I managed to get up. A voice called out to me, "are you alright!" A woman immediately stopped and came to my rescue she walked me to a nearby bench on the path and as I sat down, another passerby stopped saying he would call for help as he was an EMT. I must have passed out because the next thing I knew I was in the ambulance on the way to SF General.
What a lifesaver! San Francisco General is outstanding in its work to serve the medical needs of all San Franciscans. From the moment I arrived at the ER dedicated staff and volunteers were quick to attend to me and assess my condition. Mostly, there was concern about head and brain injury, so a CAT Scan was prescribed. Busy as the ER was that day, i was amazed that all of the staff were so focused and dedicated with meeting the needs of each patient, some with injuries and conditions far worse than mine.
SF General is the hospital that serves everyone, regardless, especially the uninsured. And, as much as I strive to hold on to my medical insurance I too have become part of the 49 million Americans who have no health insurance coverage.
Where else could I go except for SF General Hospital? My health insurance ran out. As a free-lancer and part-time office assistant, my health insurance is out of pocket. And, each year as one gets older, health insurance rates go up. To help lower the cost I had opted for a Health Savings Account.
The down side to those, despite how beneficial they might seem is one must take a higher-deductible plan.
Even with a lowered monthly rate, the deductible got even higher, set at over 5,200. That allowed for only one annual check up most of which I had to pay out of pocket. So I gave up and let the PPO plan expire. A typical HSA account
by the way, even with its tax exempt aspects, has maintenance fees and the checks cost extra too.
The cost of health care is one of the most expensive items most Americans must pay for when tallying their expenses for the month. This is a reality most working Americans know all too well, especially those with families.
Even with health care coverage more and more is required for people to pay "out of pocket." Billing advocates like Medical Billing Advocates of America
are working to help people understand the confusion when people such as myself receive a bill from their doctor and health insurance provider.
In the many articles I had written concerning the struggle to keep hospital's like St. Luke's in the Mission District open,
there was also discussion about how the cost of health care keeps rising. When I talked with billing advocates like Nora Johnson of Medical Billing Advocates of America on subjects relating to health care and health care costs, she reiterated to me more than once that our health care system is on the verge of imploding. She also talked about the often unfair and conflicting procedures
that insurance companies use to avoid paying or delay in paying of a patient's medical bill.
It is so ironic that this reporter would be in a hospital at this time when the US Supreme Court is making its decision upon the issue of universal health care coverage
for all citizens. Even the San Francisco Chronicle asked the question in its banner headline this morning, "What Next?" Some speculate that employers could drop health coverage.
Yet for most Americans even when health care coverage is offered it does not cover everything, such as the unexpected. I did not plan on having a mishap on my bicycle. Nor can I afford any more bills. That simple ride to the ER at SF General costs $2,065.00 at the base rate and then there was a separate charge for mileage at $129.00.
I have not received the bill for the ER from SF General but I think it is fair to speculate that the bill will be considerable. As my friend Tim Vigil said when he called to check up on me, "don't think about the bill right now, thank goodness San Francisco General was there to help you."
And, so it is with gratitude that I write this opinion-editorial, for with out the general hospitals of this nations, such as SF General what might have happened to me? I am very thankful for everyone who attended to me. Thanks so much SF General Hospital, keep up the good work!
Meanwhile, I called the ambulance company to set up a payment plan. Yet, I wonder what the total bill will be when I get the invoice from the ER at SF General?