A Faustian Bargain? What It’s Like To Navigate America’s Healthcare System In The 21st Century

When it comes to elective surgery, you can plan for almost everything except the price:

Here’s what happens when you have urethral surgery. You arrive at the hospital in a tracksuit with your mom and your best friend in tow. They give you hugs. An administrator swipes your credit card for an “estimated payment” of $3,200 and change. Then you change into a gown and hairnet, and sit in a small room while various people ask you to verify your name and date of birth. You sign consent forms. The surgeon and his assistant come to tell you that everything’s going to go great. Your mom and friend are permitted one last hug and squeeze of the hand. Finally you’re escorted down the hall, around the corner, and through a door into a very bright room in which a team of people are moving purposefully. You lie on a large metal bed and are promptly covered with blankets. The IV goes in. Suddenly you’re floating. Someone puts a clear plastic mask over your mouth and tells you to take 10 deep breaths. Your skin prickles all over.

Published: Feb 25, 2014
Length: 22 minutes (5,532 words)