America's Healthcare Horror
If you can afford good medical coverage with a low deductible, you are lucky. You are are economically well off. But, for most Americans, this is not the case. If you are among those earning between $30-70,000 a year, you cringe at the cost for medical coverage deducted from your pay or account. You cringe at the cost of some prescriptions. You cringe at the high deductible that must be met before this costly medical insurances pays their share. You cringe at paying $500-800 a month for the cheapest medical insurance for yourself, let alone the entirely family that will nearly double it. After payroll deductions and medical coverage, you cringe to the amount you actually take home. As I said, unless you are making at least $5000 a month, it hurts. Now, if your over 65, you get some relief via Medicare that is mandatory. Medicare Part A, covers you 100%, Part B, 80% but omits prescriptions. The cost for Part B is $136 a month.
Like many procedures, mine was routine, non-life threatening. It was for a inguinal hernia located in the groin area. I did not even know I had one until an annual checkup disclosed it. I made an appointment to have the procedure done and while it is considered out-patient, that was not entirely true, the robotic surgery had to be done in the local hospital. I was told the procedure would take no longer than one hour. Recovery time usually was 2-3 hours in recovery, then, I could go home.
On the day it was scheduled, they did usual pre-op procedures: EKG, X-ray, scrub down, BP test, blood draw. This began at 0800. It all took less than 45 min. I then waited in a room for surgery at 1100. When that time arrived, I was informed of a delay due to other surgeries ahead of mine. I waited until 1300. Again, another delay to 1600. Now, the surgeon arrived to inform me that surgery should be done the following day due to the back up.
On Day 2, I was now first in line. It went like clock work. In surgery for one hour, in recovery for two hours, then went home. My share of the cost was $900. Based upon my portion, I presumed the cost for this surgery was $5000 or so. Most hernias cost no more than this and this was confirmed from nurses I chatted with.
The Real Cost
Weeks later, I got the bill for the surgery from the hospital. This was just for the hospital.
There was no itemization of the charges. I was furious. After a heated phone call, I found out the insurance had paid $40,000 and more of this. I demanded an itemized list of the charges and for what for. The hospital indicated that they do not provide this!
I was then told that the billing went out by error because my payment for my share had been posted on the wrong accounting ledger in their computer system. I was assured that it would be corrected. Had I not challenged this, I could have paid my share twice!
Then, I got more bills:
- Anesthesia $1638.00
- Laping Hernia Kit $917.00
So, exactly what did the hospital charge me for and were those charges normal or grossly overcharged? One would think the additional charges I got would have been covered in the hospital charge. What did the surgeon charge? Was that the $5000 for the surgery?
I was so angered by the deception, I filed a complaint with the county Consumer Affairs office and with the State DA. This is just one problem of America's healthcare system gone amok.