Sick health care

Welcome to this week’s Reno News & Review.

I’m one of the lucky 79 percent of Nevadans who have health care—the topic of this week’s cover story. While I was abridging my boss’ 11,000-word in-depth interview with Nevada Health and Human Services director Mike Willden, I got the flu. Unable to think through the illness and hesitant to infect my co-workers, I was basically MIA from Wednesday through Friday. Since it’s likely I caught it from a co-worker, that effort not to infect others had probably already been taken out of my hands. And now, there are at least two more employees sick.

I guess it’s obvious I’m the highest paid editorial type at this newspaper. It’s not much compared to a casino bartender, but it’s still plenty. Even though I was working half-days, my boss—because of my flu—lost about 25 hours of my work. And, he still had to pay me. And he had to pay me again to do the work I was unable to do while I was sick. With others sick, it remains to be seen how much that single virus will cost our company. It’s in the $5,000 range at minimum. The thing was, it probably didn’t have to happen.

You see, two weeks ago, I went to the Walgreens across the street from the office to get vaccinated against the flu. As I said, I have insurance. But my insurance doesn’t cover flu shots, so rather than pay the $30, I elected to hold out until I could get a cheaper shot at Costco, to save myself $10.

I didn’t go to the doctor. Who goes to the doctor when they get the flu? My guess is, some actuarial table somewhere shows that people don’t seek medical care for the flu, so the insurance company profited a few bucks by not paying for the shot, knowing that even if I got sick, I wouldn’t go to a clinic. If the insurance company had invested in preventative care—insurance I pay for—it could have saved our company thousands.

You know, I probably touched the doorknob at your place of business. I touched shopping carts, licked envelopes, sneezed on bars, held gas pumps—shit, I might have patted your baby on the head or assisted your mother with that sack of kitty litter.