Sunday, July 06, 2008

Open Letter To Government Healthcare Regulators

Dear Government Drone,

It was about two months ago that I had to make a trip to the emergency room for pain caused by the passing of a kidney stone.

Given the state of health insurance in this country, I held out as long as I could, but eventually succumbed to the pain and went to the local hospital's ER. Health insurance is the new car insurance, where people don't actually file a claim because they are afraid of rate increases. Only this is our bodies we're talking about, not our cars.

I've passed a ton (literally, I swear) of kidney stones. Not that my insurance company would know. But I know, so all I needed was some serious pain meds. The hydrocodone I stockpiled from the last go around wasn't even taking the edge off.

Instead, I was treated to all kinds of x-rays. There was the standard KUB (Kidney Ureter Bladder) and then an ultra-sound. They took my blood and put me on a D5W IV drip. In the end, the stone was "hiding" and didn't show up on either x-ray, so I was sent home with meds when the pain subsided. I could have accomplished as much if they had just written me a prescription when I asked and gone home and drank a gallon of water. In all fairness, I'm sure the folks in the ER were performing a healthy dose of CYA since they live in fear of malpractice suits. Thanks, lawyers!

But this strays from the actual intent of this letter. That being the prices charged by medical facilities and professionals.

All the final bills are in:

Hospital ER
Quoted Price: $1,999
Insurance Adjustment: $1,709.19
Actual Out of Pocket: $289.81

Attending Doctor
Quoted Price: $590
Insurance Adjustment: $385.96
Actual Out of Pocket: $204.04

KUB and Ultrasound
Quoted Price: $81
Insurance Adjustment: None
Actual Out of Pocket: $81

Radiology Department
Quoted Price: $21
Insurance Adjustment: $13.61
Actual Out of Pocket: $7.39

Cumulative Quoted Price: $2,691
Cumulative Adjustment: $2,189.76
Cumulative Out of Pocket: $582.24
So, if I was uninsured, my cost would be $2,691. That fact that I have an insurance policy means I paid $582.24. Mind you, the insurance company never paid a dime because this is below the deductible on my policy, which is essentially a bare bones catastrophic policy so I can afford the monthly premium. And a kidney stone, in their eyes at least, was not a catastrophe.

But had I not carried an insurance policy, I would be in debt for years. Just with a kidney stone — thank goodness it wasn't cancer!

There should be ONE price for services!

The cost of the 3 hours in the ER is either worth $1,999 or $289.81. This is a regressive tax and burden on the working poor that can least afford it — those that make too much to be on government assistance and make too little to afford health coverage.

I'm not supportive of price controls but the competition of the free market isn't working.

The ones who can least afford medical services are the ones who have to pay the most. It makes no sense.

Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter.



1 comment:

Romach said...

OMG! Thats all so expensive! I pay £100.00 per year for all my medication and I have to take loads everyday. It really would be a good thing if the united states developed a National Health service in the UK. Its far from perfect but at least if your rushed into hospital the last thing your worried about is the cost of treatment and drugs.