I wonder how Congress is going to fix our health care system. They've done such a great job fixing other things. (insert your own note of sarcasm here).
Two weeks ago I had a small accident -- dropped a really heavy object on the top of my foot. It swelled immediately but there was no pain or limitation of movement. I sat down and put ice on it until my husband got home. Because it involved my driving foot, I thought it best to get it x-rayed. We went to the ER at our local hospital because the doctor we use said, "if it's broken we'll send you somewhere else anyway for an ortho consult." At the ER it was a sleepy Thursday afternoon so I got way more attention than I deserved. They took the X-rays, said nothing was broken, wrapped it, insisted on a tetanus shot, gave me a prescription to fill for a high-octane pain killer, and put me on crutches for a week. Without pain or limitation of motion, by the time we got home, I jettisoned the crutches. By applying RICE (Rest, ice, compression, elevation), and skipping the gym until Monday, I was fine.
For all of this, I was billed $1,279.25 for emergency services. The statement from the hospital says my insurance company paid $306.69, and there was a contractual adjustment of $942.56. I owe $30, essentially a co-pay. So my insurance company paid a reasonable cost, I pay a reasonable cost, and the hospital has to eat $942.56? Does anyone else find this ridiculous? Who ends up paying that missing amount? Is this what drives the exorbitant cost of health care?
Let me state for the record that the ER people working at the hospital were kind, professional and highly competent. They are in the same squeeze though -- overtreat because of risk avoidance, and then bill, bill, bill!
As Ted Kennedy and Hilary Clinton are facing health challenges, do you think they're asking these same questions? i.e., just what IS my insurance company paying for? If we ALL asked these questions and challenged the underlying assumptions, might the system actually be improved?