Costly care shows need for public health option

This is a tale of three ER visits, the first in Nice, France, where I was stricken with severe diarrhea and went to the hospital. I was treated kindly, had tests including an abdominal CT scan and saw three physicians. As a non-French resident I paid via credit card — a shocking $180. That is all. My six prescribed medications (some brand, some generic and some OTC) totaled $60. That is less than I would have paid here with my prescription insurance co-pays.

A friend who dislocated her hip in Santorini, Greece, was taken by ambulance to the emergency room where she had anesthesia and the joint reduction procedure. Her bill for the ambulance, ER treatment and medications was $700.

I took my 85-year-old mother to an emergency room in South Jersey with excruciating pain in her hip/lumbar area. She never saw a physician. Rudimentary X-rays were taken. She was given a small, ineffective pain medication and steroid. She was cared for by aides (very pleasant), one RN who could barely deign to stay in the room the seconds necessary to administer the shot, and a physician’s assistant. When I asked about an MRI, which was clearly needed, it was denied. By the way, the ER was empty at the time. The bill for this, submitted to Medicare, with her 20% co-pay being more than the Greek care above in its entirety, was thousands of dollars. It turned out after I took her elsewhere that she had a severe compression fracture which the local ER missed and was operated on at a Camden hospital a few days later.

I do not advocate socialized medicine since the country is not ready for it and until the obscene amounts of student debt undertaken by doctors is addressed would be unfair to them. They are not the source of the problem. The insurance and pharmaceutical companies are. Ask our elected officials to give a Medicare option and start to care more for us than they do for the big companies.

Terry Dailey

Mays Landing

A.C. casinos should be smoke-free like Md.

I am from Maryland and have been visiting Atlantic City for over 60 years. I was recently there for overnight and I will probably not be back. There is no reason for me to drive there anymore.

In Maryland, we have clean, smoke-free casinos. In Atlantic City you might smell like smoke when you leave. New Jersey didn’t do the right thing in protecting all guests and workers from second-hand smoke years ago. It was afraid of losing business, but it lost more because of that.

The beach looks dirty. I even said hello to a cop and he just ignored me. You have nothing to offer anymore. If I want to go to the beach, I will go in Maryland or Delaware.

Michael Barrash

Pikesville, Md.

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