Are Boomers Ready to Share the Pain?

That’s the question asked by life coach John Agno here. I was inspired to pick up the thread.

Every age group, every industry, every lobby is going to be required to give up something for the future of the country. If you were going to give up something, what would it be?

Would Bill Gates or Warren Buffet notice if they couldn’t draw monthly SS checks?

Would giant multinational industrial-agricultural complexes (formerly called “farms”) forego crop subsidies?

Would the Pentagon give up the latest multi-billion-dollar surgical strike plaything?

Here’s another opportunity: greater transparency in the health industry would cut costs. Of course, lobbyists (and bought politicians) sneer and say, “Consumers aren’t going to shop around for the best surgeon when they have a heart attack!” Of course not. But there are other things we could shop around for, if we had the chance. Routine testing for example: mammograms, colonoscopies, treadmill – you get the picture.

Recently, I needed abdominal surgery. I had to get a CT scan, and my copay was 100% (I buy my own insurance and it’s the best I can qualify for in the current market; I am not on Medicare.) The cost was $2850 out of pocket. There’s another hospital forty miles away that is also highly regarded, and I have PPO insurance so I could have gone there for the test. I tried to find out what they charged for a CT scan, but they couldn’t tell me. I pursued it from department to department, and here’s what I ended up with: The cost depends on which doctor is on staff that day, and what technician, and what their personal pay rates are, and how long it takes, and…and…and I gave up.

So just try to find out what they charge. You can’t, and maybe you don’t want to. For example, if you have “regular” insurance (e.g. group coverage through an employer, or Medicare) you may not feel the urgency of this issue, but the way things are going in health care, you soon will.

“Cut earmarks! Cut waste and fraud!” Sure. That’s always a good idea, but it amounts to about 1% of the problem. Medicare, Social Security, and defense are the only cuts that will matter.

I worked for thirty years in a corporate setting. I paid into Social Security. Shouldn’t I insist I get mine? Well, I did pay in, and it helped cover Mom and Dad in their golden years. And I got real lucky and ended up at this later part of my life being blessed financially. So if they want to do means testing – ouch! ouch! ouch! – alright, darn it. Cut my “entitlement.” Let the folks who weren’t as lucky or blessed have my share.

Remember the 1960s and 1970s, fellow Boomers? We were strong, we defied the status quo, we defied the older generation who seemed so calcified, so sure of themselves, and so unwilling to bend. Now we’re that generation. I know that, with the Great Recession, there’s way too much pain out there right now, and I don’t want to add to it, but if you are lucky enough to be getting by comfortably, what might you do, fellow Boomer?


  1. says

    Hi there

    I chanced on your blog from a comment you left on the Beckel story at Huffington post, and I’ve just read this blog entry. “$2850 out of pocket”???!!!

    I needed an abdominal op in March; internal hernia. I phoned an ambulance on the Friday evening, they arrived within about 10 minutes, checked my vital signs and then took me to the local hospital. Within 20-30 minutes I saw an out of hours GP (general practitioner) who referred me to a surgeon, surgical team really. They prodded me about a bit then sent me down for an x-ray. This told them there was some kind of a blockage but they still didn’t know what so they prodded me a bit more then sent me down for a CT scan.

    Back I came to be told that they still weren’t sure what it was and they would just have to go in and “fix what we find”. I was in theatre by midday Saturday, groggy but awake by Saturday evening, in a nice warm ward again all day Sunday, then Monday morning I was transferred to another hospital a couple of miles away to recuperate for a week. The food was not exactly gourmet, but decent and nutritious, and they even gave me regulation paper PJs because I had no clothes with me except my street-wear.

    There was another x-ray at some point, I think on the Monday before I was transferred.

    And when I came out of hospital a week later I was not one penny out of pocket. I don’t have private health insurance but I do live in Scotland where we pay a proportion of our earnings as National Insurance to cover such things as the National Health Service and Sickness/Incapacity Benefit (for when we are unable to work).

    Please don’t take this as a “yaa boo sucks”. I genuinely sympathise with your situation. But next time anyone tells you the British NHS doesn’t work, refer them to this message.

    All the best for a speedy recovery,


    • says

      Hey, Chik, I loved hearing from you. Most Americans have a sneaking suspicion that what they have isn’t that great, in spite of the fact that we pay a lot for it. I am amazed at your experience – all that and not a penny out of pocket!!! (Readers, are you noting this?!!)

      My own bill will start at nearly $50,000, although the negotiations between hospital and insurance company (another layer of bureaucracy we pay for: bosses, secretaries, copy machines, phone calls, faxes, etc.) will drop it, eventually, to a lesser amount. Madness! Thanks for weighing in, and I hope you’ll stop by again. How cool to have a buddy all the way over in Scotland.

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