What a Crowdsourced ER Bill Taught Me About Socialized Medicine
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.
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