Updated: Aug 20, 2019
The Point: Our society values “things” more than we value healthcare.
In a recent conversation about expenses I noticed something interesting. While discussing my tax refund with a friend, I received a response that went something like this-
“Man, it sucks you had to spend that money on medical bills.”
Truthfully, I agreed. It really was an unfortunate situation that I'd recently needed emergency surgery to get rid of my pesky Appendix. I now had the entire insurance deductible to pay, and more. To make matters worse, the previous year I'd also needed another very unexpected surgery. That year, I didn't even have insurance, so the credit card took the brunt of that blow.
Millions of Americans know exactly what I'm talking about. Medical bills can pile up quickly for what seems like the most routine procedures. I get new bills in the mail on a daily basis. Honestly, it seems like they'll never stop.
Leaving all of the political talking points decreed by Bernie Sanders, AOC, Joe Biden, and the rest, I'd love to bring up one interesting observation about the way we perceive medical expenses vs. our everyday gadgets and subscriptions we seem to care nothing about.
Why is it okay to spend $25,000 on a new car, but considered completely egregious to spend the same amount on a life-saving medical procedure?
We seem completely fine with leasing a $1,200 cell-phone, but can't imagine $1,200 spent on an innovative test that can literally save your life.
Healthcare is too expensive, don't get me wrong. There will be numerous articles to follow on this website explaining the free-market solutions that are much needed in the industry. But maybe, just maybe, there's also an issue with our society and the value we place on "things."
What if, when saved by an amazing new medication or procedure, you valued your ability to continue life, over that car sitting in the driveway?
What if you said to yourself, "Self, you're spending $250,000 on a nicer house when you could have easily lived in a $150,000 house, or even rented that small apartment across the street. You might think it's totally reasonable to shell out $100,000 more in unnecessary expenses just to have an extra room just for that $1,000 Bow-flex clothes-hanging apparatus. Maybe when someone says it would cost $100,000 to save your life, it's actually a pretty good investment."
Is a nice couch more important than a Mammogram?
Is a newer car more important than a life-saving MRI?
Is an iPhone Xs MAX a more prudent investment than setting that broken foot?
When you think about it, you're going to spend almost $1,000 this year on Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, and the right amount of GB for that space-phone you have in your pocket.
When my doctor told me he'd remove my appendix, so I didn't die slowly in excruciating agony, my response should have been pure gratitude. After-all, my wife and I spent as much (or more) on our last vacation. The most ironic part of the whole situation is that if it weren't for the doctor's life-saving procedure, I wouldn't have been around to loath him afterwards.
Think about what you're placing monetary value on in your life before screaming at the next hospital bill. You might realize "life" is the most valuable thing you bought all year.