Opinion » Note

Otter Can Afford the Hospital, Can You?



Last week, Idaho Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter was hospitalized for two nights for an unknown illness, which could have been dehydration and fatigue resulting from a possible bacterial infection.

The governor started feeling poorly while castrating and branding cattle at Lt. Gov. Brad Little's ranch over the previous weekend and, in the governor's own words, "I wasn't to the point where I was comatose. I wasn't to the point where, you know, I was sleeping, but, you know, I would wake up and then I would be sweating." With a temperature of 101.8, according to an AP report, Otter and his wife headed to the doc on Monday. Thursday, Otter was back at work and released the above statement.

Let me tell you what would have happened in my house in the same situation. Under my roof live two healthy adults in their 30s. One, myself, has health insurance provided through a small business, Boise Weekly, at what are truly exorbitant monthly premiums. The other, my better half, works for a small business that does not offer its employees health insurance and has been completely uninsured for seven years.

Had my better half gotten sick like Otter, I would have pumped him full of Gatorade and water, made a batch of chicken noodle soup and tried to convince him that if he absolutely had to go to the hospital, his health was more important than the ensuing bill. He would have declined and assured me that he had no intention of squandering his savings on some damn hospital bill, and then sent me to the store for more Gatorade.

Had it been me who showed Otter's signs of illness, my better half would have pumped me full of Gatorade and water, made a batch of chicken noodle soup and tried to convince me to go to the doctor. I would have considered it, because after all, I do have health insurance. Then I would start doing the math. No co-pay. A $5,000 deductible. Coinsurance at 30 percent. Nope, I wouldn't be going anywhere near a hospital.

This comparison is exactly what's wrong with the big picture: Those making the laws--or suing over them--have good coverage. Many of the rest of us don't. You want to be in touch with the people, guv? Pay that hospital bill out-of-pocket, without taking a penny from your health insurance company. Then maybe you'll start to understand the pinch the rest of us--insured and not--are in.

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