Yesterday I received a bill from my medical group. I picked it out of the pile of mail with great trepidation. My insurance is supposed to take care of this, I thought to myself in a panic, that's what I pay them for, over $600 a month! So what could be wrong? Am I going to get socked with some outrageous bill? Did something fall between the cracks?
I swear, if you don't have high blood pressure and stress-related anxiety problems before you get a medical bill, you sure will afterwards.
I threw the envelope on my desk; I couldn't deal with this right away; I'd look at it in the morning. So this morning, with shaky hand, I reached over and picked up my letter opener, slit the envelope, took out the bill, and unfolded the sheet of paper. My eyes quickly darted down a short list of items and found the bottom line. I owed $50.
Whew, $50, no problem. But wait a second, that's my co-pay. And I paid the copay at the medical group when I saw the doctor (good luck getting into see the doctor if you don't pony up your copay).
Anyway, after mailing my response, I went to slip the bill into my filing cabinet -- and noticed the rest of the itemization. I'd had a problem with my finger, and in point of fact, I actually hadn't seen a doctor. I saw a Physician's Assistant. The PA was actually a nice guy, and seemed perfectly fine, and also seemed to know what he was doing. But he's not a doctor. Yet I had to pay the same $50 copay. Then the group billed my insurance company an additional $125 -- which, I hate to say it, actually doesn't seem that excessive as far as medical bills go.
The PA gave me a Cordisone injection into my finger. A little vial of fluid. Took him about 30 seconds to administer the dose. And the cost? $525.
Doesn't that seem a bit excessive?
I read in the New York Times today that there is a shortage of some medicines -- not Cordisone, but some others. I'd think that, at $525 a pop, there'd be enough profit it in so that plenty of companies would be making plenty of medicines.
I don't know what the solution to the health care crisis is. Maybe having me see a Physician's Assistant instead of a doctor, for my non-emergency problem, is part of the solution. But still, the bill for my 15 minute visit was $713. Clearly, something has to be done about the costs of health care.
I agree with the president and others who think it's important that all American have access to medical care -- at least some medical care, if not the very top-of-the-line care. You know, preventative care, basic care, etc. But at the rate we're going, it seems we'll soon be spending our entire gross national product on health care, with nothing left over for houses and cars and restaurants and vacations. We'll just spend all our time taking care of one another and never get anything else done.Surely, that's not the solution.