lucky duckies

Socialized ER Care Is Such A Sweet Deal, Unless You Have Ball Cancer

Three cheers for Mitt Romney!Isn’t it wonderful to live in the land of socialized health care, where You People can all go to the ER of our local hospitals and receive medical services that everyone else pays for? As Mitt pointed out, “If someone has a heart attack, they don’t sit in their apartment and die. We pick them up in an ambulance and take them to the hospital and give them care.” And indeed we do! But what if that same uninsured or underinsured Someone has, say, testicular cancer? Do we pick him up in an ambulance and take him to the hospital and give him care? No. We do not. We tell him that we won’t treat him, but that it’s “urgent” he get care.

This is because hospitals are only required by law to provide care for “acute” illnesses or injuries. Ball cancer is not acute, so if you have that, and you have no insurance, and you show up to a private hospital, you are on your own. But you should probably get that taken care of somehow, ok?

A provocative new documentary, “The Waiting Room,” is a snapshot of Highland Hospital in Oakland, Calif., one of the nation’s busiest safety-net hospitals, which is stretched to the limit with 241 patients a day, mostly uninsured, who need medical care they can’t afford.

They take a number and they wait, sometimes coming back two or three days in a row. It might be months before they can get a doctor’s appointment. With only one operating room, the most urgent cases go first and the rest wait. A man with a survivable gunshot wound has waited two days to be seen…

[The filmmaker] dispels the myth that safety-net hospitals are free. [A] carpetlayer with bone spurs … finally sees a specialist, but earns just a little too much to qualify for Charity Care, [and] takes home a large bill for Highland’s services.

How unfortunate, but it’s more important that we have freedom than free health care, don’t you think? Or perhaps we could just implement Medicare for all and stop worrying about this crap. But we are raving socialist commie pinkos, so what do we know.


About the author

Kris E. Benson writes about politics for Wonkette and is pursuing a doctorate in philosophy. This will come in handy for when they finally open that philosophy factory in the next town over. @Kris_E_Benson

View all articles by Kris E. Benson
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  1. Come here a minute

    Would it be despicable to wish that someone who supports this type of system gets the ball cancer? Hmmm. Despicable, yes, but also deliciously ironic.

    1. AznMom420

      This is why I've invested in a cottage industry of golden nad caddies, its only a matter of time until all that "clean" nuclear energy catches up with the market.

    2. miss_grundy

      Unfortunately, if you are thinking of the same person that I am thinking of, he probably has a cadillac health insurance plan and more than enough money to be seen by the best doctors in the best hospitals around. The only justice would be that he didn't pay attention to any of the signs and that the disease has advanced to a point that he loses his testes and has a full penectomy. Then, we could both be happy….

      Without the votes…..

    3. Biel_ze_Bubba

      The people who support this system are precisely the people who won't ever have to use it. Charity hospitals are for "you people".

  2. Poindexter718

    The key is to cut the cancerous yarbles with a boxcutter to trick the ER doc into taking a look at them.

      1. Poindexter718

        Thanks and yes, I'm all about solutions. Solutions and jerb creating. Also personal responsibility and making not mooching.
        So then I'm all about: solutions, jerb creating, personal responsibility and making not mooching.
        Also, I built that. And not apologizing.
        So, to recap, I'm all about: solutions, jerb creating, personal responsibility and making not mooching and building that & never apologizing for America.
        I think that's it. –Cheers

  3. badseeds

    You would think this problem about the testicles would resonate with R & R, since they have such big, brass clanging ones.

    1. AncienReggie

      Better than that, even. You'll recall her speech at the GOP convention when she said how important it was to have a doctor you know will pick up the phone when you call in the middle of the night. (Spoken with that, "doesn't everybody?" lilt.)

      So, who even needs insurance when you have a Concierge Doctor at your beck and call? Of course, Rafalca probably just has the regular Romneycare coverage, house calls during business hours only.

    1. sewollef

      Actually, not. I wouldn't wish cancer on anyone.

      No, me neither. However, a fall on the street sustaining a nasty break of the leg in several places requiring urgent medical care, but — and I stress — NOT acute enough to jump the queue of that gunshot victim.

      Being in severe pain while waiting for several hours isn't that bad, right?

    1. Beowoof

      I don't know, depends on who is the screener. I nominate Amy Adams. After working with Clint I am sure she can do it.

    2. JustPixelz

      The ladies can use their ball cancer screening vouchers for lattés at the abortionplex. Everybody wins!

    3. Boojum

      Yes! That screening, done by under dressed ladies, could be a frequent thing. Or, for teh gheyz, under dressed men, as we will not tolerate discrimination in our ball screenings.

  4. PuckStopsHere

    People who have brass balls (which is what I think Bill Clinton meant when he said of Paul Ryan, "It takes some brass…) don't have to worry about testicular cancer, so man up, boys.

  5. KeepFnThatChicken

    This is good news for women!


    This is bad news for Lance Armstro– oh, already removed? This is good news for Lance Armstrong!

    1. SmutBoffin

      When I used to smoke cigarettes, I would always buy the packs that warned of the effects of smoking on pregnant women. Because those are perfectly safe for dudes, right?

        1. MittBorg

          HAHAHA. There's parts of Oakland that are very wealthy and white and exclusive and safe. And then, yeah, there's Highland Hospital, and the East Oakland ghetto where all the Poorz live, and people get shot all the time. Business as usual. Nobody even reacts any more.

          1. Negropolis

            Hey, I can make that joke being from Detroit, another city with clusters of neighborhoods that don't see a single murder in a year and then where literally a few blocks over it's a warzone.

    1. MissTaken

      Or you haven't been shot with a gun. It's a Level 2 trauma center so they get all the crazy gunshot wounds. My friend was an ER nurse there and had some horrible stories to tell.

      1. BerkeleyBear

        That's why I remember it – it was mentioned in all the news stories involving gang shootings back when I lived in the Bay Area.

        1. MittBorg

          Well, even if you're shot, as long as you have insurance and it isn't anything serious, I would, um, give them a wide berth. It's a GREAT hospital, AFAIK. Like MissTaken says, they take all the serious gunshot cases, so they have lots of expertise at saving lives. But it's pretty fucking intense. You really don't want to go there unless you absofuckinglutely have to.

  6. KeepFnThatChicken

    I remember a cartoon that depicted a man receiving a blowjob in a hospital bed by a nurse. Beside him was another bed, occupied by a man who was clearly protesting the lack of "service", and a wonkish administrator was telling him, "But you're not in-network."

  7. Caelan Aegana

    I can't stand to watch things like this. It's bad enough with my employer-based insurance, which is so abusive that I end up paying about 50% of the things that are supposed to be covered, AFTER nine months of appeals. And this year they are trying to foist on us the glory of the HSA, which can be summed up as "we are going to charge you to use your own money to pay for your icky health problems."

    I don't want to think about how it could be worse.

    (No snark – apologies.)

      1. Caelan Aegana

        Humana. But we are moving to Cigna next year, because our employer apparently didn't think we were being adequately punished for that whole being alive thing.

        1. MittBorg

          Humana truly sucks ass, and should be renamed InHumana, just so people know up front what they're getting. Cigna's even worse? Sweet Jebus. Any of them worth a shit?

        1. Geminisunmars

          True story about Kaiser. I took my elderly mother in once because she was having chronic nosebleeds. During the office visit she began having a bleed. They couldn't/wouldn't do anything for her, she must go to an ER. But — they wouldn't let me use one of their wheel chairs or let someone accompany me to bring it back, so I ended up having to call an ambulance to take her across the fucking street to that hospital's ER. I sure felt like they cared deeply about her well being that day.

          1. SayItWithWookies

            I am not the least bit surprised. We had to call them before going to a hospital, and their call center peoples' first response to everything was to take an aspirin.

            And if you wanted to never hear from them again, the best thing to do was call up and say you were out of town and could they recommend a place wherever you were at the time that they covered? I'd call them leeches, but at least leeches don't charge you.

          2. MittBorg

            Another true story about Kaiser, which I had way back when I was a Poorz: They almost killed me. They gave me something that was contraindicated for some other problem I had and it made me vomit myself inside out. I called in sick to work, and this lovely woman I used to work with called Kaiser and screamed at them till they sent someone over with the antidote. I told the guy I couldn't get to the door, and he said, "Crawl if you have to because if you don't take this soon, you're gonna be dead." Amazing how much power a few little words can have.

            I have NEVER gone to them again. And I never will, if I have anything to say about it.

          3. Geminisunmars

            I have some friends who swear by the kaiser; I only want to swear at it. I'm so glad they didn't manage to kill you.

    1. KeepFnThatChicken

      …or the endless line of "We cover that — except you transversed a wormhole and ate a concrete salad, thus you are denied" problems, or the costly eyeglass program that gives you a pair that resembles something you can get in prison, or dental that doesn't cover — seriously, hold on — wisdom tooth extraction.

      I don't even…

      1. Caelan Aegana

        The last two years it's been "guess which doctors are in-network THIS week! Isn't this fun? It's not fun? We don't cover complainers."

        Although I think my favorite/most loathed moment was when the rep told us he thought the plan requirement for us to negotiate with our doctors on price from our hospital bed was a great customer care perk.

        One of the Brits in our office answered with a hearty "Oh FUCK you."

        1. sewollef

          I don't want to get really sick in this country.

          If I do, I'm flying home to the UK and get it for free.

          I LOVE living here [New York], but I hate the healthcare in this country, it is seriously, the. fucking. worst. I've ever come across. Third-world quality.

          But then I used to live in France, where they pay you to convalesce after an illness or accident. Pick you up at home in an ambulance and take you home in one.*

          *After falling off a ladder cleaning crap out of the gutters of my house in Toulouse, this was my punishment at the hands of the French health service.

          Those bastards.

          1. Negropolis

            I'll have to slightly disagree. While the delivery of health care is a complete and utter disaster, the quality can be excellent. The problem is, of course, access and even geography. There's a reason every sick dictator in the world comes to have surgey and treatment in the United States.

      2. BerkeleyBear

        Yeah, don't talk to me about dental. My son had to have thousands of work done a few years ago because (like his mother) he doesn't have all his adult teeth and so you have to either put implants in or save what you can of the baby ones so he doesn't look like a hockey goon. The insurance didn't cover shit, and since it exhausted the family pool for that year my wife's two root canals later that year weren't covered at all. Just about every year since she's had at least one major issue, typically the result of some prior effort failing, and every single time it costs hundreds to thousands of dollars. I'm constantly pissed about that.

        1. Biel_ze_Bubba

          Dental "insurance" is the biggest scam in the industry. Basically, anything costing more than the annual premium is not covered.
          Implants are "cosmetic" by definition — even if they prevent the rest of your teeth from turning sideways and falling out of your head. Things have to reach a truly horrific state of affairs before bad dentition becomes a "medical" condition — and they know you'll spend thousands out of your own pocket to avoid reaching the stage where they might have to start providing coverage. So they just sit there with a smirk, while they leave you on the hook for all the drilling, filling, bone grafts, and $1,000-a-microgram BMP treatments that the oral surgeons want to use.
          Nice world they live in: no negotiated prices, and every customer pays retail. If your kid wants to go into medicine, the best advice you can give is to suggest oral/maxillofacial surgery.

      1. Caelan Aegana

        I used to find some black humor in it. Now it's just congealed to this sticky tar shit that won't even catch on fire.

          1. Caelan Aegana

            Doesn't that make me more of a Canada-hater?

            Speaking as the nerdy chemical engineer that I am, it is in fact really hard to set tar sand on fire. That's why it costs so fucking much to extract oil from it.

          2. Bonzos_Bed_Time

            Somehow access to Canadian petroleum product = US-American energy independence.
            I don't make the rules in wing-nut world!

  8. Not_So_Much

    My crappy insurance is the reason I use the Anthony Weiner method and just twatter pictures of my junk out randomly with the standard request, "If you see something, say something!"

    1. kittensdontlie

      Sounds reasonable, but Homeland Security might get a call if anyone suspects "signs of reconnaissance or equipment tampering".

  9. calliecallie

    You'd think a guy whose wife has MS would want people to have universal health care.

    Oh, right, they have that in Massachusetts, don't they?

    What a fucking hypocrite.

  10. Tequila Mockingbird

    Ironically, Mitt is the man he is today because his mother smoked during pregnancy.*

    *Not intended to be a factual statement.

  11. viennawoods13

    I cannot wrap my mind around how you people manage to live in that country. Up here in the Great White North, I birthed 2 babies, have had a miscellany of minor surgeries, watched my father and my mother-in-law receive stellar palliative care as they died of cancer, watched my sister receive cutting-edge treatment for leukemia … all without a bill. Even our nasty Conservative fearless leader, Stephen Harper, would not DARE suggest taking that away from us. Ever.

    1. BoroPrimorac

      Give it a few years, it's only recently that your conservatives have been bitten by the Teabagger bug.

      1. viennawoods13

        Au contraire! The current crop of Cons pioneered teabagging as the Reform Party of Canada starting in the early 90's. But even they, at their most Refoooorm, did not suggest getting rid of Medicare.

        1. GregComlish

          First they have to run up the debt with massive spending on military hardware and tax breaks for the wealthy. Then they start talking about the need for making tough choices to keep the fiscal house in order.

          1. viennawoods13

            It just doesn't work that way in Canada. Trust me. Their own constituency would be the first to get pissed off and toss them out of office if they threatened Medicare. It's been here for 50 years and for any party to suggest scaling it back would be political suicide.

    2. OneYieldRegular

      All we're doing is managing to live; it's a full time job. Invade us, please, should What's-his-Mitt get elected.

      1. Geminisunmars

        We surrender. Here are flowers and kisses. Would you like your foot-rub now, or after your blow job?

      2. Designer_Rants

        That's the problem: we spend all the healthcare, education, infrastructure, R&D, and General Welfare money on weapons – so we're broke-down enough that no one wants to invade, and if they do: Hope they got nukes and crazy drones and aircraft dongles, cuz otherwise; FREEEEEEEDUMB!!!!1 …and bombs.

    3. MittBorg

      Once it becomes the law of the land, it is ironclad and the Republicans know this, which is why they fought so hard against it. I get the feeling they've pretty much given up for the time being, although their think tanks are bound to regurgitate it as a policy paper within a couple of years.

    4. Negropolis

      It really is something rather amazing. You've got a nation of over 300 million, and you have to just hope that your job has shitty health insurance, or you have to downgrade by not having a full-time job and get government health care and hope that you can find a doctor that will accept Medicaid patients. Either that, or you just hope you live long enough so you can get Medicare.

  12. carlgt1

    Mitt buys a million dollar horse as equine therapy for his wife's MS, so do you think he really understands or cares about problems of the poor through middle-class with healthcare?

  13. Mittens Howell, III

    I must not wish testicular cancer on Mitt Romney … I must not wish testicular cancer on Mitt Romney … I must not wish testicular cancer on Mitt Romney … I must not wish testicular cancer on Mitt Romney … I must not wish testicular cancer on Mitt Romney … I must not wish testicular cancer on Mitt Romney …

    1. Boojum

      It won't help. He has enough money to have them gold-plated and encrusted with diamonds. He doesn't need health insurance.

      Pancreatic cancer, on the other hand, he couldn't buy his way out of. But wishing that on him would be wrong.

  14. Estproph

    Here's a tip for the future: The guy with the gunshot wound probably have bumped up in line had he had another gunshot wound. So he really should have shot himself multiple times.

    1. BadKitty904

      It is. I s'pose that's due to the nature of modern American politics and the general dumbfuckery of the electorate…but it does make me a sad panda… :0(

    1. Jus_Wonderin

      It really is a shame we don't have high speed rail. I have this plan that if I get a terminal diagnosis that I would don my cow suit and head out to the tracks.

      1. Boojum

        I have this fantasy involving high powered … um … ballot boxes and long range … votes? … and the Koch brothers having a picnic with Roberts, Alito, Thomas, and Scalia.

  15. banana_bread

    I wish I could find the story I read about a woman who came in to the ER with cervical cancer so bad you could *smell* it. She of course could not afford insurance and the ER could do nothing for her.

    We are a third world country with a veneer of civility over it.

  16. Radiotherapy

    As an ER doctor for the last 25 years, I just want to say one thing:
    I hope Mitt comes to the ER with his heart attack and has to wait behind all the moochers with ball cancers who are clogging the system. We'll get you extra strength Tylenol for that chest pain governor.

    Single Payer Now!

    And there is nothing funny about cancer.

    1. ph7

      This is why hearing Romney bleat about his wife's MS to demonstrate his compassion drives me crazy. Ccompassion for the sick shouldn't end at your property line.

    2. Designer_Rants

      OMG. I finally understand that months ago, when I thought you wrote that you're an "ED" doctor, I just misread it. I kept wondering if you were an "Erectile Dysfunction" doctor.

      1. Radiotherapy

        I deal with a lot of dysfunction, but oddly, ED is one of the few things that people don't rush to the ER with.

    3. Negropolis

      Okay, you are awesome. That is all. BTW, does your name have anything to do with radiology, or am I reading too much into it, now?

      1. Radiotherapy

        It's my disgust at the great scam of Radiation Oncology. Someday, no doubt, and hopefully in the near future, we will look at treating cancer with radiation the same way we now look back at using leeches for treating illness.
        Well that and the fact that I haven't given up on radio yet.

        1. Negropolis

          I feel that way about chemo, too. My grandfather when through it a couple of years ago, and it got the cancer…and ended up destroying entire other organs.

          1. Radiotherapy

            Yes my friend, I have touched on the chemo/radiation scam before on these threads. What is a bit ironic is that ball cancer is one of the few, i.e. 5% of cancers that actually has a measurable improved survival rate with the poisons. (Because the cells are differentiated.) In the vast majority of adult malignancies, for a given stage of cancer, chemo/radiation have not changed survival rates from the 1950's. (Yes, another war we have lost.)
            Oncologists have glommed onto the success and advances in medical care to feed the Chemo-Radiation-Industrial Complex. Poignancy sells.
            Sorry about your Pops.

  17. SoBeach

    Or perhaps we could just implement Medicare for all and stop worrying about this crap.

    That's the right answer of course, but it can't happen overnight. Hundreds of thousands of people work for health insurance companies. They would all be out of a job. Untold thousands more work for doctors and hospitals doing nothing but wrangling insurance company paperwork.

    Add to that the fact that so many private retirement accounts, union pensions, and public pension plans are heavily invested in the (very profitable) health insurance companies and you realize no matter how satisfying it might be these companies can't just be killed. Especially not in today's economy.

    It will take time, but it will happen.

    1. cousinitt

      I wondered about that too but we would still need the staffing for a larger Medicare. The wranglers of thieves could be retrained to work in other government positions that require a similar skill set such as finally beefing up the enforcement wing of the EPA to fight that bastards that have crappy coal mines and pollute groundwater, etc, etc,…

      The CEOs and corporate lawyers could be retrained to staff neighborhood care clinics in inner cities. Well that, or provided lead parachutes.

    2. Boojum

      Next step is the public (or, in the context, pubic) option, which will allow insurance companies to slowly die off as they fail to compete.

  18. Serolf_Divad

    Question: Do poor ladies with breast cancer suffer the same fate?

    Answer: Yes, but like pain in childbirth, breast cancer is the price that womenfolk pay for the seductress Eve's temptation of Adam, so it's OK.

    1. LibertyLover

      No… that's not exactly right… Breast Cancer is God's punishment for a woman having an abortion. If a woman gets breast cancer, but swears she never had an abortion then her body musta had a way of shutting that sucka down and she never even knew it.

  19. banana_bread

    Oh,and the thing that really kills me is that this ER-based safety net is the least cost-effective, riskiest way of providing health care possible. Do these people not realize that we would save a shitload of money by asking care of problems BEFORE they become emergencies??

  20. Wilcoxyz

    It seems like only last election cycle you could pay the doctor with a chicken or paint their house. Free markets!

  21. SayItWithWookies

    Let's have none of this foolishness about single payer — keeping an insurance company's profits to a minimum so they can serve the greatest number of people is practically robbery already — are we going to just kick the poor middleman to the curb completely and make him crawl in the gutter on his greased palms, while his wife is forced to buy non-black angus steaks and his children go to public schools? Where, I ask you, is the humanity in that?

  22. keepwalkin

    Is Willard applauding or rolling a pair of necrotic testicles in his hands.

    With that smirk, it's hard to tell!

  23. Baconzgood

    Butt (pun intended) what of my "taint"? Is my taint protected? 'Cause I gotta cyst under my balls the size of a Top Flight.

    1. TakomaDC

      Not true. Mitt has valiantly dealt with his Aspberger's syndrome and never received a bill due to Romney-Care in MA.

  24. JustPixelz

    Legitimate cancer is not a problem. Because when a man has magic underwear, his body has ways to shut that thing down.

  25. BlueStateLibel

    No snark, but there's another great thing about universal health care: employees don't have to depend on their current employer for healthcare, which means they're more free to leave to work for better employers or even start their own better company, which means more innovation in the long run, for a more robust, more competitive free market. Snark part: Dubya said the exact same stupid thing about emergency rooms and the uninsured.

  26. BigSkullF*ckingDog

    Too bad our country doesn't have insurance. Otherwise mebbe we could get this giant tumor called the GOP excised from our rectum.

    1. Gleem McShineys

      (nerd wakes up, doesn't move)

      Girl 2: Hi, penis! Oh, boo-boo-boo-boo! There you are!

      (first girl takes a picture)

      Girl 2: You're a tiny penis, yes you are! Who's a tiny penis? Who's a tiny penis? You are! Oh, you're so cute, aren't you!

      Girl 1: Ha ha! How tiny!

      Nerd: Dang it…

  27. chascates

    Eventually the right will get a Christian Science candidate and healthcare will be eliminated since prayer is all that is required. And without any healthcare most people will be prayin' like mofos!

  28. littlebigdaddy

    Obviously, if you have ball cancer you need to befriend some Feminazis, cuz they will shrink your dick and cut your balls off for you, gratis. Or so I have heard.

  29. CommieDad

    I really don't see the problem. Just perform your own castration and the ER will consider it an emergency. Problem solved. Oh, and I hear you'll live longer without any balls too.

  30. sullivanst

    Of course, what Mitt fails to mention, what the wingtards all fail to mention, is that while EMTALA requires the hospital to stop you from dying before they ask for all your munniez, it absolutely does not prevent them from taking all your munniez the moment that last suture is in place.

    So great, you didn't die today, hopefully (sadly, many ERs play ambulance pingpong, since EMTALA requires them to either stabilize you or send you to another ER that can, so you might die being driven around at your estate's enormous expense trying to find a Doctor whose boss isn't a total fucking sociopath), but you will still be in bankruptcy court tomorrow.

      1. sullivanst

        … Or will you?

        If you're single without kids, of working age and not suffering from a chronic disease, not all states will grant Medicaid eligibility on mere extreme poverty. Also too, poverty is measured on income not assets, so the fact that you have nothing may not officially make you poor for the purposes of Medicaid eligibility, if you're one of the lucky few who, after the ER provides the minimum amount of treatment necessary to push you out the door alive, recovers good enough health to be able to work.

  31. notanncoulter

    I can't wait for Sarah Palin to weigh in on this. [sorry – could not resist the urge]

    I hope a question like this comes up in the debates, because it's an indefensible position and I would love to watch Mittens squirm trying to twist something resembling logic out of it. [can you just imagine the word salad Palin would make of it? HA! Gotcha!]

  32. MLite

    On a serious note, I was in the waiting room at one of the nation's top cancer centers a few weeks ago and we overheard a young man diagnosed with leukemia. Because he was uninsured, and could not prove that he could afford the huge costs of treatment out of pocket, he was told he would have to wait until it progressed and got bad enough that he could use the emergency room. USA-USA-USA

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