God bless you.
I wish God would bless each of you as well as he is blessing people like me.
Sure, all is not completely well with me. I am dealing with brain cancer, prostate cancer and end-stage congestive heart failure that may require me to have at least two serious surgeries as well as an out-patient radiation seeds implantation procedure.
But, thanks to God, on the whole, I am doing very well in my healing journey. Run down this basic checklist with me:
1. I have faith in a healing God, who is sustaining and healing me as I have been reporting to you, and I have His ultimate gift of eternal life.
2. I have a good job and good group health insurance coverage.
3. I am receiving effective treatment from skilled doctors at The University of Chicago Medical Center, Northwestern Memorial Hospital and the Chicago Prostate Cancer Center.
4, I have a beautiful wife of 39 years (Joyce), a great family and a wonderful, comfortable home.
5. I am experiencing no significant or sustained pain or discomfort.
Few things better teach us how blessed we are than adversity. Look around and you will see that
although there are a lot of people doing better, there are far more people around the world doing
Having faith in God, a job, a family, home and health insurance put me in better position to deal with
my sicknesses. When I realize that, according to the U.S. Department of Labor's April report, 240,000
more Americans lost their jobs in the first three months of this year to bring the unemployment total to
7.6 million, I realize I'm blessed to have a job.
When I read reports that America's homeless population now exceeds 3,500,000, I'm blessed.
When I read reports that more than 47 million Americans have no medical insurance, I realize I'm
In December, when I was billed $31,500.65 for a two-night stay at Northwestern Memorial Hospital
to undergo an angiogram and other other tests, my insurance paid everything except about $1,200.
Then in early April, when I spent four nights in the University of Chicago Hospital for tests
examining my heart and prostate, I ran up hospital and doctor bills of $55,000, of which my
insurance paid all but $535.
Without insurance, I would have incurred roughly $85,000 in medical bills that didn't even
include surgery. These were all primarily for tests. But the biggest surprise for me about the
Northwestern Hospital bill was a charge of $5,154 for two days of room and board and $2,200 for
a six-hour stay in the emergency room, including two hours in a hallway until my hospital room was
ready. At the University of Chicago Hospital, room and board average a little less at $2,200 a day. But
that's still mighty stiff for what one gets. Now, understand, I'm just talking room and board and having a
nurse to check on you periodically. The hospitals told me this did not include medicine, doctor visits and
any tests done on me.
For $4,500, I can book a two-bedroom, lake-view, deluxe suite with living room, dining room and
three baths for two days at Chicago's Four Seasons and that includes spending $300 each day for
For $3,800, I can book a two-bedroom, two-bathroom lakeside suite in Chicago's Ritz Carlton for
two days and that also includes $300 a day on food.
For $3,700, I can book a two-day stay in a grand deluxe suite in the Chicago Penninsula Hotel and
that includes spending $200 a day on meals.
For $3,600, I can book a Gold Coast suite in the Drake Hotel, including $200 a day for food.
And for these exorbitant prices, these hospitals provide the smallest and most flimsy of wash cloths
and bath towels (my towel was the size of a hotel hand towel), a tiny bar of soap and a tiny box a kleenex
with tissue not even big enough to properly wipe the nose of my grandson Caleb Banks.
But the worst amenity of a hospital stay is its tasteless, limited, ugly food and small portions of it.
This includes the thimble-size cups of fruit juice. The only reasons I can figure for hospital food
being so awful is to make the patients fight harder to get well, get out and go back home. Hospitals
suck all the flavor out of its food. I can understand how some of the meals served to patients have to
be low on salt. But surely, the hospitals can serve a wider variety of menu choices and put just a teeny,
weeny bit of flavor in their food.
I also discovered that it's far cheaper to bring your own medications with you if you are on
medication and administer it yourself because its five to 10 times more expensive to have the
hospital nurses to come in and give you that same medicine from the hospital's pharmacy.
Making matters worse is the fact a rapidly rising number of Americans don't have health
insurance because they're either unemployed or because their employers have stopped offering
health insurance as a fringe benefit. So many people just skip going to doctors or hospitals to get
the care they need until they simply have to and then it's too late.
Corruption is another thing driving up costs. Many doctors are performing operations the
patients really don't need and are not only over-charging for them but they are charging some
patients for treatments they didn't give and also over-prescribing medicines.
No wonder, many Americans are critical of our health care system, which, according to investigative
reporter Michael Moore and the World Hospital Organization, ranks 37th in terms of the quality and
economy of care. In his newest documentary, "SiCKO," Moore even shows how it's easier and cheaper for
patients to get care in Cuba, which ironically ranked 39th, than in the U.S.
Moore's premise is that American doctors work more to make money while doctors in England,
France, Canada and other countries work more to help people get well.
Consequently, more and more Americans, according to the May 12 issue of U.S. News and World
Report, are taking their business to foreign doctors and hospitals in places like India, Thailand and
Singapore, where they can get bargains like a coronary bypass for anywhere from $7,000 to $32,000
instead of paying from $70,000 to $133,000 for the same thing in the U.S.
A hip replacement would cost $10,200 in India, but $33,000 to $57,000 in the U.S. A prostate
surgery that would cost $3,600 in India would cost $10,000 to $16,000 An heart valve replacement
that would cost $10,200 in Indiana would cost $33,000 to $57,000 in the U.S.
Of course, one must add some $5,000 for round-trip air fare and a couple of extra thousand
for hotel, food and local transportation for a week or so. But one still comes out saving thousands and
thousand. And he quality of care is equal to, if not better than, much of what one would find here in the
U.S. After all, most of the best doctors already in the U.S. are foreign doctors anyway, or they were born
So although I'm blessed to have insurance to pay most of my medical expenses, I still really feel bad
and even mad that growing millions of Americans don't have it.
God bless you.