Tuesday, June 02, 2015

This is why the health cost system is bullshit

Here is a good example of why the way health care is paid for in this country is total BS.

This week I am going in for some outpatient arthroscopic knee surgery.

So a simple question: What is it likely to cost me after insurance?

Just try to find that out.

My doctor provided me with a CPT code for the procedure and his estimated charges. But then there is the hospital facilities charge, and the anesthesiologist, etc. In other words, lots of hidden charges that would be nice to be able to budget for.

An afternoon of phone calls and online research produces nothing but frustration. The "financial counselor" at the hospital says she can only tell me the total billable cost is $18,000 -- but has no breakdown of codes, charges, etc. Blue Cross/Blue Shield says it can't help without codes. D'oh.

Its online procedure estimator doesn't let me put in the CPT code, so I'm left to use a general rough procedure -- for which the results bear no resemblance to any of the other figures.

So best guess from that is that I will owe somewhere between $1,800 and $2,400. Nothing like a 33% swing.

Dear politicians: If you want to control health care costs, cut the demagoguery  and start by insisting on transparency in the cost ahead of time. Many of us want to manage our care. But you don't give us the tools to do it.

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