Your Health Insurance May Not Do You Much Good If You Are An Alcoholic

We are directly responsible for our own health. The choices that we make are critical to our wellbeing.

The hard fact about being an alcoholic is that health insurance might not do you a lot of good. Why is this? Boozing it up causes a lot of secondary problems for the drinker. They are often medically expensive problems. For instance, chronic drinkers very often will bleed to death, because their liver is so fibrous it begins to block the blood flow to the heart. The blood has to go somewhere and that somewhere is usually into the esophagus.

When an alcoholic presents in an ER with blood in their throat, an interventional radiologist is called to perform a transjugular intrahepatic portosystemic shunt insertion. It’s basically a tubular metal stent inserted into the veins in the middle of the liver to allow blood flow to bypass the liver. This isn’t a pretty procedure and it’s complex and dangerous and very expensive. In other words, the medical health system is using a very expensive procedure to help save people who do not take care of themselves. They are treating a preventable disease, a disease of choice for those who do not want to stop.

Abusing alcohol causes roughly 100,000 deaths every year across the nation. In fact, these avoidable deaths rank third, right after two other well known forms of avoidable death, obesity and smoking. The health care costs alone for individuals who are overweight, smoke or drink, are astronomical. It’s treatments to save their lives that also contribute to the rising costs of treatment to Americans. These are treatments that tax dollars are ultimately paying for in the long run and treatments that are in part paid for by health insurance that is not bottomless.

Consider some of these startling numbers dealing with medical care for drinkers. Just about 40 percent or more of all the patients in general hospital beds are in the hospital because they are suffering from complications due to drinking. This figure goes up annually. Overall, the amount of money the health care system spends to treat health problems caused by drinking runs close to $23 billion a year. Yes, $23 BILLION in just health care costs per year. The more someone drinks, the higher their health care costs.

Here’s a quick example of some of the costs involved with an alcoholic going to the ER for treatment. Most ER visits bill out at about $1,191.81 per visit. If a drinker arrives in the ER on average of once a week, that’s $4,767.24 a month in medical costs. For a year that would work out to be $57,211.68. If that same alcoholic needs to be hospitalized, that bill could be at least $5,306.68 per day. If you do the math, the amount of money that goes into treating alcoholics is staggering.

The more someone drinks, the higher the costs to society as a whole in various sectors such as lost time at work due to sick days, vehicle wrecks, criminal charges, suicide attempts, violent crime and time in jail etc. Alcohol doesn’t just affect the drinker; it affects everyone who comes into contact with that person, including the medical system that tries to keep them alive and the insurance policy that can’t keep up with the overwhelming demand for payments. It’s ironic that alcoholism prevention isn’t funded by nearly as much money as the terminal care given to a dying alcoholic.

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