Tuesday, June 28, 2016

5073 Costs of medical care

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

"Love is an irresistible desire to be irresistibly desired."
-- Robert Frost --


I read a NY Times article this morning about the high cost of maternity care and delivery in the US.  When Daughter was born 41 years ago, the bill wasn't so terribly high, but I do remember that when I requested an itemized bill, the hospital objected at first, then finally gave in, and I was shocked to find that we were charged for things that we never got.  I'd had no medication whatsoever, not even aspirin, and yet we (well, the insurance co.) were billed for all kinds of stuff.  I noticed, for example, that we were billed some ridiculous amount for Daughter's blood typing, so I called the hospital and asked what her blood type was.  They hemmed and hawed, and finally admitted it had never been done.  Buncha stuff like that.

I informed the insurance company of all the bogus charges.  I don't know what happened after that.  It was like they had a standard list of usual procedures, and just charged for all of it, whether we got it or not.  

So, I wondered what the breast business might end up costing.  My insurance dealy has me pay 20% for just about everything up to a certain out-of-pocket limit, so I figured out what this has likely cost so far - just through the diagnostic part.
So far, I've had
- a diagnostic mammogram (how is that different from the standard mammo, BTW?)
- ultrasound
- ultrasound-guided core needle biopsy
- fine needle aspiration of a cyst
- MRI of breasts
- associated lab work and technical stuff for the above.

So far, I've paid a bit over $500 to the breast center.  If that's 20%, then so far it has cost over $2,500, and we haven't even got to the fancy parts yet.  I don't know if I should expect a separate bill from radiologists, but according to everyone I've spoken to so far, no, they are employees of the center, so do not bill separately.  The only ones who bill separately are apparently the anesthesiologists. (Incidentally, I did the math wrong first time through, and came up with $10,000 instead of $2,500.  Oops.  Not so terrible after all....)

Jay's brain cancer was intense, a lot of stuff done, many MRIs, three craniotomies, five different chemotherapies, immune system therapy, several weeks of daily radiation, steriotactic radiosurgery, many stays in hospitals and specialized care centers, many specialists, many expensive maintenance drugs, and yet between late 1998 and the end of 2001 the grand total was less than $300,000.

Wow.  I think costs have increased a bit ....  especially distressing given that insurance now covers a lot less of the total.

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