Wednesday, November 18, 2009

If Search and Rescue worked like American health care

Several days ago, two men who were hiking in the mountains got themselves into a sticky situation and were rescued. However, imagine how things would be different if Search and Rescue worked like our healthcare system:

D: 911, what is your emergency?

V: Yeah, my buddy and I were hiking in the mountains, and we got stuck on a ledge and need help.

D: OK,no problem. We can take care of that. What insurance company do you use?

V: Why do you need to know that?

D: So we know who we can charge. We accept most major insurance carriers.

V: Well, I don;t have Search and Rescue insurance.

D: Oh, well, we can't help you if you can't pay. We aren't a charity, you know....

V: I've got a job. We can pay out of our pockets.

D: Well, just to let you know, your bills will be double what we charge the insurance companies.

V: That's criminal!

D: Well, if you don't like it, get yourself down the mountain!

V: OK, OK, I take it back. I'm sorry. However, if you could just come get me, I'd appreciate it.

D: OK, then. We'll airlift some supplies up tonight, as it is unsafe to get you tonight.*

V: OK, sounds good.

The next morning, a representative of the Search and Rescue company stopped on the ridge with out two rescuees.

V: Oh my God, I'm so glad to see you!

R: Well, we're glad to help. However, before we can pluck you off the mountain, we just need you to fill some paperwork out. Name, birthday, complete medical history, and medical conditions your Grandparents had; you know, the basic stuff.

V: This seems like a complete waste of time. We're suffering from hypothermia here.

R: Well, we need to have this information. Sure, we could get it from the other times you have needed our help, but our systems aren't computerized.

V: Not computerized!? This is 2009!

R: Yeah. crazy, isn't it?

V: You bet it's crazy!

R: Well, are you going to fill out those forms or not? Our helicopter pilot has been on shift for 30 hours and is getting cranky.

V: 30 hours? And he's supposed to save my life?

R: He's in training.

V: Oh,OK. You got a pen?

they fill out the paperwork, and get lifted up into the helicopter. While in flight, a bill collector hands them an envelope.

V: What's this?

C: It's a bill for services rendered thus far. It includes everything that happened up until our representative met with you this morning.

V: Well, nothing happened before this morning. This morning is the act I'm paying for.

C: Just take a look at the bill. And while you areopening it, when will we be getting payment from you?

V: Can't I finish getting rescued before you start asking me for money?

C: We're not a charity, you know. But, we are willing to set up payments.

V: $75 for a blanket? $200 to call for help? $132 for radio rental?

C: Well, if our sleep-deprived pilot gets into a crash, you or your next of kin will sue us for negligence. We'll have to spend millions on our defense. That's why search and rescue costs so much.

V: So, it doesn't matter that S&R company heads are making record money?

C: We're not running a charity here. You're stuck with the bill now. We have very good collection agencies.

V: How could I have avoided this?

C: Well, don't get stuck on a ledge. And if you do get stuck n a ledge,pray that you die quickly.

*This part really did happen

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