Posted by: paulbassler | April 19, 2013

Medical Costs Are Outrageous

Everyone knows that medical costs are high. Still, you have to wonder how hospitals and doctors figure out how much they are going to charge. With most businesses, you first determine your costs, add on your taxes and a reasonable profit margin and you set your prices. When it comes to medical costs, it’s not that clear.
I have been caring for my wife for the past five years after she suffered a burst brain aneurysm and lost use of her right side, both arm and leg. Throughout those five years I have had to move her from her bed to her wheelchair at least five times a day. When we travel, that number goes up considerably. Unfortunately, my body gave out the other day and I suffered a hernia while trying to get her in and out of our car. After feeling a great deal of pain in my lower back on the right side, and pain coming from my lower stomach on the right side, I had no choice but to visit the emergency room at our local hospital. Not having medical insurance, I knew it was going to be costly, but the intense pain gave me no options.
There was not a long line of people in the emergency room at our local hospital. Upon arrival I only had to wait about a half hour before being called in. In the administration room I met a doctor’s assistant and receptionist. They asked me a few questions, name, address, insurance (if any) and my current problem. I told them I thought I might have a hernia. The doctor’s assistant asked me if I wanted him to check, I said yes, and down came the pants. Most guys know the routine…turn your head and cough, which I did. Yep, he said, you have a hernia. After telling me that guys my age often opt not to have it surgically repaired, he gave me the name of a surgeon, a prescription for pain killer, muscle relaxer and one pain killer pill then sent me on my way. It took about ten minutes.
Then I was sent to the cashier who asked how much I wanted to pay down on my bill. I asked how much it would be, but she couldn’t tell me. I gave her a hundred dollars and went home. A few weeks later, the bill came in. They charged $700 for that ten minutes of assistance, then reduced it to $465 because I was a cash customer. I couldn’t believe it. First of all, they wanted to charge my insurance company (if I had one) $700 for ten minutes. That’s ridiculous. That’s theft. Even the $465 they charge me was outrageous. How could they possibly justify that kind of charge?
A week or so later, I get another bill from the doctor. The bill was $245, and it claimed I was serviced by a doctor and his assistant. As I mentioned, I never saw a doctor, but apparently the doctor on staff gets paid even if he doesn’t treat the patient. I assume his role is to quality control his assistant. Still, those costs are simply not aligned with any justifiable costs. Again, since I was a cash paying patient and below a certain level of income, they were willing to reduce the cost 50%.
It’s nice that the hospital and doctor are willing to take less money for cash, but it makes you wonder why they hit the insurance companies with costs that are simply not aligned with actual expenses. If they are willing to take $587 from me because I pay cash, how do they justify getting $945 from the insurance company? Where is the justification for either cost?
I can understand that there is a cost to pay for having a doctor, receptionist and hospital space available 24 hours a day, but $945 for ten minutes work seems excessive. I suppose what they are trying to do is discourage people from going to the emergency room for anything less than an actual emergency. They are probably confident that if someone is willing to pay that kind of money, they must really be in dire need. I know I was. But next time I’m going to have to be near death before I go back to the emergency room. I would have loved to have simply gone to my doctor, but of course, it takes a month or two to get a doctor’s appointment and most doctors don’t handle walk in emergencies. I’m sure my doctor could have easily diagnosed my hernia and prescribed the same medication they did at the emergency room for about 75% less. Once Obama Care kicks in and the haves start paying for the medical expenses for the have-nots, our country is going to go broke in no time.
For me, my goal is to try and stay healthy through regular exercise, my organic garden and healthy eating. For anyone interested in starting their own garden (and avoid getting sick to begin with) please visit my blog and website at Of course, you might want to avoid heavy lifting as well.

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