An unaffordable Lesson

We were visiting LA this October and my daughter was suffering from earache and fever. As foreigners, we fell into a panic because we were out of town. We called her doctor, who suggested us to take her to a walk-in urgent center since she might need antibiotics for the infection.

We didn’t worry much about the fee, given that we pay  every month a big amount of money for the medical insurance. It was later that we realized that we had committed a huge mistake by going to the children’s hospital emergency room. But it was a mistake that we could not avoid. Who would have time to google the difference between an urgent care center and the emergency center?

We were not happy in the waiting room but surprised by the three hours that passed by before being checked up. Claire had ear infection and needed antibiotics. 5 minutes later, we were ready to go.

Then, the story began. At the door, we were asked to pay 150 dollars for the co-pay. I paid although the fee did surprise me. Then, one week later, we got another bill which said that the treatment cost 166 dollars and that besides the insurance, we still should pay 114 dollars by ourselves. I accepted and paid.  Another week later, we got a second bill which listed 695 dollars for the hospital charges. It is said that our insurance covered 184 and we still owe 360 dollars to the hospital. I was shocked.

I never expected to pay in total 861 dollars for an ear infection treatment which lasted 5 minutes. Even with a good insurance coverage, we still should pay 624 dollars by ourselves. That was crazy.

So I asked my friends for advice. All I got was the same anger against the medical service and the suggestion to avoid any contact with hospitals and doctors. They told me that I mad a huge mistake to go to the emergency room, that gave me the only reason to accept the situation.

I don’t know how people can handle such situation if they are not familiar with the system and have no courage to fight back. An individual will never win the battle against a huge and complicated system. It’s all-consuming.

How did the election divide my friends

In the parking lot, I heard such greetings between two old ladies and an old man. The man asked them how was their day. They had just attended a gathering to support Hillary and hopefully declared their favor of the candidate. “While I’m a Trump guy.” followed the man. “Then, we are not friends any more.” The two women entered in their car and drove away.

This dialogue amazed me, yet I still doubted about the irony or the joke in such a daily communication. I had never taken the political opinion into consideration when I make friends. First, it’s not easy to know others’ real opinion about a delicate issue. Second, in China we hardly debated on politics, which turned out to be pure chatting. Third, it’s easy to reach a consensus when we all complain about the government but not in support of a certain leader.

The new age comes where we are all connected in the social web, which makes the expression of our own beliefs easy and the others’ opinion transparent. By reading others’ comments and declarations, we constantly redefine the profile that they project in our mind. “I never know that she was so stupid!” “How extreme you are!””That’s a great deal of hatred!” “Never could I discuss with him any more.”

Although the recent presidential election didn’t concern directly me neither most of my friends, which was also a main reason that we discussed much more than an average U.S citizen in his surroundings, we all had the impression that many walls were being built up between us as our discussion went on with more and more disagreement. Some dialogue even became an accusation, a deception of trust, and a reason to end the friendship.

“Let’s hope another victory in France, with a true empowered woman!” declared one of my friend this morning. This made me so angry that I instantly block our communication. Another friend also cheered up by sharing some dirty jokes, which made me sick all morning. How could I believe that they are all actual teachers in university. They accused me of my elitism and my blindness of the reality, while I felt so humiliated by their arrogance and discrimination.

I don’t know whether our friendship will survive after this turmoil. To ensure the longevity of any relationship, we should never stand too close, because each individual has a natural defense of his basic needs including safety and self-esteem.