Cohort Pic(k) of the Day: Volvo Ambulance – $16.51 For A Ride To The Hospital

This is a bit of a surprise, seeing this Volvo-based ambulance, which Corey Behrens shot on the street in Stockholm, Sweden. I just assumed all European ambulance are van-based.  It’s so compact and light compared to what goes for an ambulance hereabouts. As is the cost for a ride to a hospital in Stockholm compared to Eugene.

Our current ones in Eugene have a Ford F-450 chassis, a medium-class truck. What all is in there? A full operating theater?

FWIW, a ride to the hospital in Eugene will you back $1859.00 and $24.18/mile. And yes, they will charge you that and come after you with their collection agency and get a judgment against you if your insurance doesn’t cover all of it.

I’ll drive myself; thank you. I can drive with one arm. Or ask Stephanie or a neighbor. Better yet, I’ll just not go at all. I’m a great DIY physician. You think I went to the Emergency Room when I shot a framing nail with a nail gun through my finger. Nah…fortunately, it didn’t hit a bone.

Last time I was a patient in a hospital was…1978. And that was utterly unnecessary surgery; I should have sued for malpractice; I want my foreskin back. It least he didn’t botch it.

No wonder we had home births for our three kids; the last one I delivered myself.

The cost of an ambulance ride in Sweden? 150 kronor. That’s $16.51 USD.  Obviously that’s heavily subsidized by the government health care system, but I bet it doesn’t cost them any stinking two grand, even if it is a Volvo and not a Ford Transit.

OK; this was not intended as a troll on the very sick (but financially very healthy) American health care industrial complex. My apologies. But seeing this Volvo triggered something in me, like this memory: When Stephanie and I were in Austria in the winter of 1980, I came down with bronchitis. We were staying with my aunt. She called the doctor, a lovely woman who showed up at her apartment later that same day to check me out and prescribe some antibiotics. I’m struggling to remember if I was asked to pay some very nominal amount or not.

Enough of all that. There’s no need to get into some stupid pissing match in the comments about this. It’s just the way the system is, and it’s not going to change drastically anytime soon. Maybe some small incremental fixes, like Obamacare and the expansion of Medicaid. We’ve created a monster that costs us twice per capita compared to Europe, with no better outcomes. The contrast can be seen in this Volvo and that F450 ambulance. They’re just two relatively minor but very representative examples of two very different approaches.