California v. Texas, Ctd

Ed Kilgore piles on Ross for calling Texas as economic "model citizen." A reader writes:

I have a personal story to add to this debate as it regards Texas vs. California health care for the uninsured. Seven years ago I was a starving student in law school in California without insurance and was visiting my brother in Dallas, Texas over summer break. While there, I tripped over one of his miniature chihuahuas and landed smack down, face first, on his concrete patio floor. It looked like I busted by entire face. We went to the local emergency room (can't remember which hospital). I don't even think I saw a doctor, just a nurse practitioner. Nothing wrong with that, of course, until I got the bill. The NP simply put a liquid bandage on my upper lip (no X-ray even) and sent me on my way. A month later, I received a bill for over $1,000.

Recently I was laid off from my job, and couldn't afford the $450 per month Cobra payment to continue my health insurance. Last month, I had this weird abscess in my buttocks that hurt like hell (it felt like I had broken my tail bone).

First I went to Urgent Care, per my sister's advice, which, without insurance, costs $100 per visit. I was told that maybe I had a cyst, but the doctor couldn't see any visible sign of it, so gave me a prescription of antibiotics and pain pills and told me to come back in a few days. Well, a few days later, the pain had become unbearable and I went back to Urgent Care. The doctor said she still couldn't see anything and that I would need a CT scan to locate the abscess and to have it drained at the hospital. Since I didn't have insurance, she recommended I go to the ER at county hospital, which for me was Olive View/UCLA in Sylmar, CA.

I can't tell you how that affected me. I just started crying. I couldn't stand the thought of going to "county hospital". But, I had no real choice, unless I wanted a huge medical bill (and assuming anyone would even see me without health insurance).

So, ER at County is like ER at any major metropolitan hospital: crowded as hell. But screening happened right away (no more than 15 minutes waiting), and I was deemed to need immediate attention. Once admitted, I had fantastic care. The cost of this visit? $125 (includes the CT Scan). Had to go back for surgery to drain the abscess. Cost for that? $125. Five weeks of physical therapy. Cost for that? $125. And I received phone calls weekly from the ER to see how I am. Now that I've been discharged from PT, they want me to have a follow up CT Scan just to ensure everything's ok. Again, cost for that will be $125. It's a flat rate that covers everything.

So, $1,000 to put a liquid bandage on my upper lip vs. $500 for 2 CT Scans, 2 ER visits, surgery and 5 weeks of physical therapy. That's Texas vs. California for the uninsured.

Another reader writes:

I'm really not sure what we can specifically point to one thing that's unique about Texas that has made its economy boom lately. So this is purely anecdotal.

I went to high school in Dallas, received my BA from the University of Texas at Austin, and have worked at the Texas Legislative Council since February. (Incidentally, I lived in Orange County from kindergarten through junior high.) My father's company moved its headquarters from Los Angeles to Dallas because it is more or less in the middle of the country . Now they are closer to everything (whereas before, getting to Chicago, NYC, and other places was a bigger deal, the DFW airport can get you most place in the US in under 4 hours I'd imagine). It is also cheaper. The considerable low cost of living lures a lot of companies here, which might be one reason why soo many major corporations are headquartered in Dallas. (It kind of reminds me of multinational corporations moving their businesses to third world countries).

Given the low costs, companies can pay families to move out to Texas (just like my family). In fact, at the high school I went to, I can honestly say there were only a few dozen kids who had grown up in Dallas their entire lives (or even most of it). Almost everyone moved in from somewhere because their parent's company had relocated. This, I think, is important. I remember moving to Texas from CA and everyone telling us how low the taxes were here mainly because there is no income tax. But, as my parents always remind me, property taxes are no joke here. So I don't think it's the taxes as much as it's everything else: land is cheap, goods and services are cheap, whereas everything in CA is considerably more expensive.