Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The High Cost of Health Care

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?

Hope so.



Anonymous said...

First of all I hope you foot is on the mend. Sorry that happened. Secondly I think you got lucky with being treated so well in the ER. Most of the time you sit and wait for hours...you could die for all they care...at least that's been my experience. Yes and don't get me wrong, there are real good people that work in there but it's just the attitude that most of the time that comes out...It's horrible if you ask me. It's like where do you think you are going so we can make you wait as long as we want. I've always wondered the same thing as you. That billing adjustment just has never made sense. Since they show the alloted charges why don't they just bill that? I don't ever get it and probably never will. It's all bunk if you ask me. But good point? Does the hsopital eat that charge? I hope they choke on it myself :)

Maria Berg said...

How will pay? I dont get it, MB