What a Crowdsourced ER Bill Taught Me About Socialized Medicine

Categories: Random Ephemera

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Spending New Year Day in the animal emergency room is something of a tradition in my family. It doesn't happen every year, but it has happened enough for me to not be surprised about it.

This particular instance came from my Himalayan cat Daniel who became unable to pass any urine at all. He turned very lethargic, wouldn't eat, and gave every indication of severe distress. A quick poll of my Facebook friends resulted in variations of, "Get him to emergency care pronto before his pee bag rips and he dies."

Stuck between the death of my daughter's favorite animal, and one I'm quite fond of myself, what else was there to do?

So off we went to the kind people at the North Houston Veterinary Specialist. Turns out that Daniel had a complete blockage and required almost a week of hospitalization while they inserted a catheter and tried to clear out a bladder full of bad things.

I knew this wasn't going to be cheap, and that worried me. Believe it or not, talking about Doctor Who on an art blog does not exactly leave you rolling in big denominations. We didn't have pet insurance because the idea that such a thing be treated like human health insurance is still woefully rare in the United States (It's primarily treated like property insurance, which explains a lot about us, actually). When the numbers were crunched the estimate was more than a month's rent.

How the hell was I going to pay for this?

That's when someone mentioned PetChance.org.

In 2012 a Boston man named Peter Alberti was listening to a talk-radio show that featured a veterinarian fielding caller questions. A large number involved people trying to find cheaper ways to treat pets with expensive medical issues. Often the only affordable answer was euthanasia.

The experience prompted Alberti to start the crowdsourcing site PetChace.org to specifically set up a way for people to ask for donations for costly care. It's an amazing website. PetChance confirms with the vet that you actually do have a pet seeking treatment, and donations are funneled straight to the caregiver to avoid fraud. The person who starts the campaign never even touches it. The timing is quite flexible, too, with none of the deadlines that limit things like GoFundMe and the like.

On the advice of a friend I set up a campaign for Daniel set at the middle of his projected cost. I managed to raise the funds in just two days... a fact that leaves me spellbound and very, very humbled. It also had a curious side effect of teaching me a bit about the idea of socialized medicine.

This story continues on the next page.


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13 comments
Brent Tisdale
Brent Tisdale

What you describe is the OPPOSITE of socialism. What you describe here is called CHARITY. Charity is about freedom of choice, socialism is about force, and reduced choice. You didn't have the "government" get in your way, because the government wasn't involved. It was simply sympathetic/empathetic people VOLUNTEERING their money to something they believed in. When true socialism hits, believe me, every every corner that can be cut, WILL be cut to save a few bucks, so our government can sponge off of a new "free" source of money to spend on some new agenda. If we could KILL this idea of socialism, get rid of the scam of insurance, and get people back into a charitable frame of mind, we could actually get back the American Dream.

Jef Withonef
Jef Withonef

The fact that you have to be forced to insure your fellow Americans can go to the doctor pretty much proves why the law is needed. That was my point. Can we maybe please just start assuming responsibility for each other like every other civilized country?

Ryan Johnson
Ryan Johnson

The big difference is that your crowd funding sources voluntarily donated the funds. With Obama care people are forced to pay either larger premiums or higher taxes to cover someone else. The person getting the subsidized plan makes out like a winner, the person paying more than they would have paid before the ACA looses financially. Had people been forced to cover the medical bills of your cat then maybe we can compare the two.

Richard Bond
Richard Bond

Wonderful story, no matter which side of the fence one happens to be on.

Jef Withonef
Jef Withonef

You are gonna miss everything cool and die angry.

Jacob Bocanegra
Jacob Bocanegra

sorry about ur dog. love me a redhead with glasses...

Elias McClellan
Elias McClellan

I really REALLY wanted to comment on this excellent story but couldn't log onto HP.

Jww Weghorst
Jww Weghorst

Euthanasia is right. Go spend $8,000 trying to save your animal. Dumb ass.

KaitlinS
KaitlinS topcommenter

I recently rescued a stray dog who turned out to be heartworm positive, so I set up a gofundme and raised the money for her treatment in just a few hours. Restores faith in humanity a bit, doesn't it?

Smedley
Smedley

I would ask what it is that you feed your cat. I lost a male cat years ago to the exact same thing, FUS. It was completely heartbreaking. I wish I'd known then what I know now about dry food especially. There are some major brands that are sold as completely great for cats, but are primarily made up of corn or other grain products which cats really aren't made to digest and can ultimately foster this sort of problem, which is generally more devastating in male cats due to the more narrow urethra. I often see these products pushed like crazy through a lot of vet offices. Its weird. It's not always food of course... One of my cats, a female, had some urinary tract issues mid last year that continued regardless of food changes or vet treatment. Upon x-ray, there was no actual blockage. It turned out she has a grain allergy and the wheat litter I'd just switched to was causing it.


Still, again... Dry food is bad. Cats are desert animals and generally get their fluids from what they eat. Look for canned and look at the ingredients and make sure that meat (not meat meal or by-product) is the first item listed as it's ordered by weight.


Also, if you get the chance, read the book 'Food Your Pets Die For'. It deals with the commercial pet food industry and is a quick read.

deceiverofmen
deceiverofmen

@Smedley The food with premium ingredients aren't always preventative. I fed my male cat Wysong before he developed stones. The prescription the vet gave him kept his urinary tract clear, but had awful ingredients. He gained weight, had horrid teeth, dull fur, was lethargic, but living without his bladder rupturing. I switched him to Wellness. He lost weight, his eyes became bright, he played, his fur grew shiny, the color deeper. He appeared to be the healthiest i'd seen him. And then he stopped peeing. Again. Back to prescription diet. Poor guy. I haven't found the right compromise yet for him. The prescription wet food seems to work best.

JefWithOneF
JefWithOneF topcommenter

@Smedley We've switched to a prescription wet food diet. It seems to be working out a little better now. Fingers crossed :)

Smedley
Smedley

@deceiverofmen

I would say that going with your vet's recommendations is usually the best first step, of course. At the same time, though, I did end up at an ER some months ago and saw stacks of dry, Hill Science Diet cat food stacked nearly to the ceiling, which I personally found disturbing. HSD was, once upon a time, a decent food... But then Procter and Gamble took over...

The prescription food's first duty is to get them to drink a more water and to deal with the PH level of their urine. Even when I had my girls on Royal Canin SO, I found myself adding a bit more water to the food, which is something I've continued after switching them back to Natural Balance, but then... I wasn't dealing with bladder stones. Wellness was an option I considered, but I kept reading poor things about it on a Cat Urinary Tract community. Have you considered a raw diet? I'm pretty sure there's a place in town that has a pretty decent selection.

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