My Costly Health Care Encounter

Like all of those network news anchors, I went for a colonoscopy.  To my surprise, notwithstanding the obvious subject, the whole process was a big pain in the ass.

First, see internist for referral, one hour and $130.

Next, see pre-admission at hospital, one hour, no charge yet.

Next, see pre-admission at outpatient surgery, get referred for EKG, spend two more hours and $200.

Next, visit surgeon for consultation, one hour out of my office and $150.

This is getting really boring.

Next, schedule procedure, then re-schedule because of pre-hypertension.  Back to internist for high blood pressure meds.  Free samples:  whoopee !!

Weeks later, finally in for the procedure.  Two hours.  Seven hours of missed work so far.

Surgeon:  $1,000.

Anesthesiologist: $750.  (Really good anesthesia; I was super-happy when I went out and when I came back in; I told the nurse she was the most beautiful woman I had ever seen.  Well worth the fee.)

Hospital: $2,500.

Good news:  I am clean.

Good news:  I used up my high deductible.

Bad news:  I still have hemorrhoids  (Geez, RT, did you have to tell us that?  That’s really TMI.)

Bad news:  My health insurance paid out thousands of dollars for a simple preventive medical procedure.  That means my premium will go up.

I called my surgeon today; grumpy.  Apparently my hemorrhoids are special, so it will cost another $5,000 to remove them.  $1,000 for surgeon and the rest for tests and hospital fees.  I remarked to my spouse that the [pejorative phrase which starts with “a” and ends with “hole”] did not fix my [pejorative phrase which starts with “a”…. you get the point], to which she suggested substituting the word “bum” in both places.

No wonder my non-Cadillac, high deductible bare-bones health insurance costs me $5,000 per year.

More importantly to the public (since I can actually afford, although not enjoy, this nonsense) these costs and distractions will deter many from undergoing this procedure.  I am self-employed and I can take off from work five or six times to go through this ridiculous complex procedure.  Many people cannot do that.  Many people cannot afford to pay all of the deductibles and co-pays.  So, they will die of cancer, at great financial expense to insurers, hospitals, or taxpayers, and at great emotional expense to their families.

I might be ready to take my chances with Obama-care.

And (explosions sound since I am a trial lawyer) we need medical malpractice tort limitations.  I personally got to go through a bunch of marginally useful tests, probably because I am a trial lawyer, which tests were not needed and used up a lot of time and money, because of fear of tort lawsuits.

But, before you greedy doctors celebrate my call for tort reform, you deserve doctor-fee reform, and, a rule that doctors cannot turn down Medicaid recipients.  My rule: If you are privileged to have a medical or dental or chiropractic license issued by the state, you cannot turn down Medicaid recipients.  Why should cardiologists make millions of dollars per year, paid by premium-payers and tax-payers, and be allowed to turn away people who lost their savings and are dependent upon Medicaid for survival?  We professionals take in the nicely rewarding cases and the not so good ones, because it all balances out.  I have a friend in Minnesota who asks why doctors believe that they are entitled to be treated as gods.  Good question.

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