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Stick with me on this one.

I have the best dog. She’s so fun and loving. She also gets really active and excited.  We were at a park recently and I was in flip flops and she was running like crazy.  She was playing with another dog and they ran fast toward me. One of them stepped hard on my foot and gashed my big toe pretty hard.  It got cut pretty badly and in the following week was swollen and looking infected.

I ended up going to a local ER because of the likely infection.  I was talked to by a triage nurse and then my vitals were taken.  I was then sent to a room where I waited for about 45 minutes until a doctor came in. She was very nice and only needed to look at my toe for about 30 seconds to say it was likely an infection and recommend an anti-biotic.  Her care was excellent and sensible. I didn’t come in with a huge injury, just a need to confirm a likely infection and get a prescription.

I waited an additional 30 minutes for someone to come back with paperwork so I could leave. In the meantime a guy came in to confirm my address and then advise me that the total bill for my time there would be $1,700.00.  I was given no medication, didn’t have an X-ray or other test that required expensive equipment and shared a room with someone else.  Because it was my first ER visit of the year, I was told that my responsibility would be the $1,000.00 deductible that I have. I was there for less than two hours. And I have “great” insurance.

That is insane and an anecdote for how terrible the health care system is in this country.  I’m not looking for pity, and I was an idiot to not go to an urgent care instead.  But it is an example of why some people avoid doctors altogether.  It’s just too expensive.

So why bring up this story?

Because if you are injured on the job in Illinois, you don’t have to have this worry. You essentially get to experience what it would be like to live in a country with universal health care.  That’s because 100% of your medical care should be covered as long as it’s reasonable and related to your work injury. There are no deductibles. There are no out of pocket expenses or co-pays.  You generally speaking get to choose your provider.  You don’t have to go to an urgent care when you think an ER would be better. You don’t have to see a chiropractor when you know an orthopedic doctor would be better.

You get to prioritize your health and trying to get better.  And doing so won’t bankrupt you.  It’s how our health care system should work for everyone, but unfortunately only works for injured workers.

At least once a week I talk to someone who has been injured on the job in Illinois and hasn’t gone to the doctor because they have no insurance and don’t think they can afford medical care. That should never be an issue.  You are covered and don’t need to prevent proof of insurance to get treatment.  You are as covered as a Canadian when it comes to getting medical care.

This is a great law, sensible and great news for IL injured workers. And after my recent ER experience I’m more thankful than ever that the law is that way.