Thursday, December 2, 2010

The COST of Medical "Care"

I found this article by a Dr. about the enormous cost of medical care. Bedside manner may need to include cost of care discussions 

As most of my readers knows I tried to find out the COST of the surgery my surgeon wanted.  His office quoted me $1,700 for the surgery.  Actually his bill was over $2500.  He even had the gall to explain to me that my 3 follow up visits were "free."  The only reason they were "free" is because their cost had been added to the original $1700.  Medical people we can't all afford this.  My Dr. and I did have discussions about the cost issue.  You can read the notes from him as they are posted in 2009. 

He and his office misrepresented the cost of the surgery, the length of time I would be away from work, the major, major issues with this type of surgery, including the permanent damage from the surgery itself and the 50% likely hood of needing additional surgery.  My Dr. when questioned concealed the fact that he only operates on unconscious patients even though I discussed my issues with g/a including the cost thereof.  HE HAS IT IN HIS NOTES, BUT HE DIDN'T GIVE A DAMN IF HE RUINED ME FINANCIALLY! 

 My surgeon had no answer when I asked him if he realized how much the total bill was.  I asked him how I was supposed to pay it.  No answer.  At the time I was upset about the cost "overruns" and that I was now facing yet another surgery if I wanted to retain the use of my hand!  I couldn't pay the initial trumped up bill and now I needed more surgery?  It was horrifying.  There is no excuse for misrepresenting the cost of this!  It should have been my choice to decide if I could afford it, not his to do as he liked and then destroy me financially.  Believe me it wasn't worth the money to have a marginally straighter arm!  (Or the kidney infection or the PTSD and anxiety disorders from being treated against my will.  A fractionally straighter arm wasn't worth any of it.  I sooo want a do over!)

I asked for a "no frills" experience, explained that my employer didn't offer health insurance etc. and instead of working with me, the hospital personnel, most egregiously planned THE MOST EXPENSIVE TREATMENT IMAGINABLE!  Why would they do that?  Well, as it turns out, once they perform the work, you as the patient are responsible for the bill unless you file bankruptcy.  You have absolutely NO RECOURSE!  Insurance companies negotiate huge discounts for themselves and us poor folks who can't afford health insurance take up the slack.  The hospital can and will sue you even though you opted out of  the expensive parts of treatment like sedation, that most ridiculous and expensive treatment that does absolutely nothing but add to the cost of any procedure...along with making our overpaid and under worked medical servants' jobs easier!

When I telephoned the hospital to get an estimate of the cost of doing an open reduction of my distal radius fracture, one of the most common fractures imaginable, they COULDN'T TELL ME THE COST.  How many hundreds of thousands of the same surgery do they have to perform before they can give you an estimate?  How STUPID are these people and how stupid do they think I am?  This isn't some kind of new or experimental surgery! 

I was quoted a price of around $3,000 excluding MEDICATION.  What they left out was that every single thing they did would be charged separately.  The tiers of nursing care, the radiologist (My surgeon can't read an x ray?  Rhetorical question as I know now that my surgeon cannot read an x ray-see his notes and the xrays in 2009) the rental of blankets, booties and blood pressure machines.  The charges for a nitwit CRNA, rental of a fluoroscope, a charge of $280 for g/a which was for writing g/a on a chart.  $200 for electronic transfer of data, the list goes on. 

The fact is that even in my initial contact with the hospital I clearly declined g/a and sedative type drugs.  That should have been clearly written on my intake forms as a contact.  It never was.  They can look it up and see that I refused that level of intervention, but they can't put that in my electronic chart.  I did everything right and what I got was lies and subterfuge.  Anything to get me into the hospital where they could take advantage of me. 

Tort reform and an almost total lack of oversight has made these people predators.  Their favorite prey being the self pay people because we don't have corporate lawyers like the insurance companies have, to keep these people in line.  There is no downside and EVERY REASON to make sure that your stay isn't limited to the day of surgery and that it is the most intrusive and expensive possible.  Not to mention that the self payers pay a rate that is substantially higher than the insureds.  So the very people that are most in need of curtailing costs are the ones singled out for aggressively priced options.

I recently read an article about this very subject on this very medical center.  If I can find it again I will put it up.  The author says that the place *I* went to plays with the books and that results in self pay patients paying twice as much as necessary and pay they will unless they file a medical bankruptcy.  Shame on them.

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