Monday, June 23, 2008

I'm on fire

I have deliberately put some time between when I opened a piece of mail today and when I'm writing about what I found inside. Blogging while angry is not a good idea.

I'm still furious (and completely shocked), but I feel like I've let off the worst of my reaction. Nevertheless, you might want to put on the fireproof suit lest you get scorched by what follows.

So you may remember that I recently paid a trip to the emergency room to find out that I had kidney stones. And I thought the pain and misery was over. Today I received a statement of services that they sent to my insurance company. The total cost for my time there comes to almost six thousand dollars.


The CT scan, which confirmed what the doctor suspected, ran almost four grand. The physician care was nearly $1700. Are you kidding?

Now I should mention that I am incredibly dense when it comes to the workings of health insurance, so perhaps everything will work out OK. I don't expect it to, though. More than likely I'm on the hook for two to three thousand dollars, an outrageous sum considering what I had done. God knows what the follow-up doctor's visit is going to cost.

This only confirms my worst fears about going to the doctor even when having insurance. Until last week's follow-up appointment, I had not gone to a regular medical examination of any kind in at least fifteen years, probably more, and didn't have a primary physician. I've felt fine, more or less, and I haven't wanted to pay the exorbitant fees that I've imagined.

But this situation takes the prize. I figured I'd come out owing a couple hundred dollars, a few hundred at most, not something in the thousands. I'm well aware that health care is prohibitively expensive here and that the current system doesn't work for a lot of people. I never dreamed it was this bad.

Obviously my mistake was checking to see what the problem was. I don't really know what the alternative would have been, but the pain from the eventual insurance company bill is going to last a lot longer than the four-day ordeal I went through.

There's not anything else to say except that I'm livid and beaten down because of this.

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At 10:15 PM, Blogger Karen said...

Mark,breathe. That's what was submitted to your insurance company, right? It doesn't mean that's what you will be responsible to pay. Make sure you see the doctor for the follow up visit. You need to have a primary care doc established. Primary care docs can get most of the tests approved and coded properly to be covered.

At 9:08 AM, OpenID Levi Wallach said...

I agree with karen, there's no way they would expect you to be able to pay these amounts. This is why you HAVE health insurance. It's ridiculous that such prices exist in the first place, but there's no way you would have to pay these, because if you did there would be no reason to pay the health insurance company anything. Typically people who don't have health insurance can still go to an emergency room and get urgent care. They will get bills for thousands of dollars in the mail, and it's completely expected that they won't be able to pay. Healthcare in this country is really f-ed up! Let's hope the next president can do something about it before it gets much worse...

At 9:26 AM, Blogger Doniamarie said...

That is crazy! Though I must say I'm not surprised. My mom's a nurse and she's worked in the ER. She's always said not to go there unless you're dying. Outside of the crazy costs, that's where everyone WITHOUT insurance goes. No wonder they never have enough doctors - they're always treating the idiots who go in for the flu (and get charged $2000). It is messed up.

I would suggest calling your insurance company and contacting your primary care doc. And certainly get a follow-up, which should be covered by insurance.

At 9:31 AM, Blogger the secret knitter said...

I'm grateful for the responses. These coupled with a night's sleep have calmed me down some. Like I said, I've rarely used health insurance, so getting the statement was an unreal jolt.

I'm still concerned that I'll be paying much more than I ever expected, but at this point a thousand dollars looks like a potential bargain in comparison.

FYI, I saw a doctor for a follow-up last week. Of course, I got no bill there either. Fun times still to come, I'm sure.

At 8:06 PM, Blogger Donna B. said...

I'm on the "it'll be fine" bandwagon. Having been to the doctor for lots of regular and unexpected-type things in the past -- including some emergency room visits -- you're not likely to end up on the hook for thousands. Look up your benefits online, or call HR and ask to talk to the benefit manager. Your university probably has pretty good coverage.


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