Thursday, July 19, 2012

$ How much?

How much does it cost?  Simple question, no?  And it deserves an answer.  But try asking when you go for a medical procedure or heaven forbid, if you end up in the hospital.  No one can answer it and very often they're surprised when you ask.

Cost-of-care questions are a  no-no

After my first appointment with the cardiologist, before my ablation, I went to the desk and asked the woman to give me an estimate of cost of this procedure.  She looked nonplussed and said they didn't do that here.  I would have to go to the hospital to "financial services." So I did.  But financial services apologized profusely and said they didn't do that at the hospital.  It had all gone corporate and I'd have to call Eugene (Ore.) - maybe.  I returned to the Cardiology office when it was fairly quiet and repeated my request, politely explaining that the hospital had no information they could give me.

There I found a terrific woman, actually 3 terrific women who spent the better part of an hour working to answer my question, going down to the basement to find someone else who did the coding, making multiple phone calls.  They finally came up with an estimate of about $ 40,000 excluding the anesthesiologist's fee.  I have pretty good insurance, thanks to Medicare plus a secondary policy, but of course, it still means I'll have to pay 10 to 20% which is not just chicken feed for us.

Seriously agitated
Same subject, different venue:  my hospitalization through Michigan Headache and Neurological Institute.  On admission to the hospital head pain unit, I asked for an estimate of cost of service.  They were bewildered.  It took me three days to come up with three answers:
1.  They didn't know, and there was no way they could know.
2.  The hospital room costs $ 1000.00 per day
3.  They offered to explain my own insurance coverage to me.

I said, "I know what my own coverage is, but what I want to know is an estimate of how much you charge for the services you offer on the Head Pain Unit."

I never got an answer.  It was all very polite, but astonishingly absent any answer to that original simple question, "How much will it cost?"

We've all been taught over the last few years, not to ask how much our medical care costs, and medical institutions have been allowed to get away with not providing this information.  I know all the reasons why, but this is really wrong, and it's one thing that is driving up the costs for all of us.

By the way, the drawing and collage above (part of a larger work) really were fun and made me feel somewhat purged of frustration.

No comments:

Post a Comment