Saturday, October 15, 2011

American Healthcare II

In March 2010, just a month after my accident, I was curious to see how much it costs to "fix," my ankle.  I put fix in quotes because, obviously, we're still in the fixing stage. I titled that post, "American Healthcare."

It's been a hot topic in our country for a while.

After adding up the costs, my first reaction was shock.  Over the three days I stayed at the hospital in Colorado, my medical bills exceeded $73,000!  I found out later from a friend of ours that operating rooms bill you and your insurance company the same way Verizon and T-Mobile do it: by the minute.

That seemed nuts, so I Googled.  According to this Consumer Reports article from 2009, "operating-room use is generally billed at rates that vary from $69 to $270 per minute."

That is nuts.

My second reaction at the time (and still to this day) was relief at how lucky my wife and I are to have jobs and to be covered by a good health insurance plan.  Not once have we had to argue or dispute anything.  Moreover, they've covered almost all of my costs.

Today I took a quick look at what providers have billed my insurance company since my accident on 13 February 2010 to 25 September 2011 (so we're still missing several visits to my family physician and surgeon).

The grand total: $288,947.54.

My insurance company negotiated those bills down to $161,986.16, a difference of $126,961.38 (a 44% discount).

Our out-of-pocket expenses so far have been $6,950.81.  That's 2.4% of what we've been billed and 4.3% of what my insurance company negotiated with each provider.  Another important thing to note is this out-of-pocket figure does not account for the hundreds, if not thousands of dollars we've spent on our own to help manage wounds, the ex-fix, and other rehab equipment.  I'm betting our out-of-pocket figure is probably over $9,000.

The crazy part about all of this is we are not even close to being done with my ankle.  My guess is we'll reach half a million before all is said and done.

1 comment:

  1. IN-sane!

    When I broke my ankle in 2001, I was still covered on my parents' plan. But after I graduated college and got booted, the crummy insurance that I got through the university where I'm working on my Ph.D. wouldn't cover pre-existing conditions. Hence until I married my husband (solely for his great health insurance, of course), I was up a creek in terms of ankle care.

    Even when I was 20 or 21 (long before I was dealing with health insurance drama myself) it struck me as pretty morally repugnant that because I was fortunate enough to be insured, I could get my ankle as "fixed" as it could possibly be while someone else without insurance would probably have ended up crippled beyond repair right from the get-go after the initial break.

    No matter what side of the aisle you're on, this has got to seem pretty bogus I would think.