I’m not a complainer or worrier-at least not often or for long. Comparatively, I have little to complain or worry about. Yet, this week I struggle with pneumonia, try to regain strength, not hurt myself coughing and not being a jerk or a burden. I’m also turning 65 and enrolling in Medicare. I keep dwelling on the amount of effort it takes to be or support someone who is sick. What is that effort? I’ve come up with six questions anyone who is worrying asks themselves. You’ll see in the pie chart below that I’ve arbitrarily assigned a percentage to how much I think most people worry about each question. (No science here, no evidence, just my thoughts)
Did you read the Sunday New York Times’ article about the $117,000 surprise medical bill? Out-of-network surgeon assistant charged $117,000. Insurance didn’t pay. Person fought the charge. Threatened with a lawsuit, he eventually paid. Ridiculous. Made me think about the major siding job we had done on our house recently. Imagine if the contractor had brought in a subcontractor unannounced and charged an additional $10,000 that we had no choice but to pay. We’d be outraged, wouldn’t pay, would go to court and probably win. How can all players feel helpless-doctors, patients, insurance companies? We tend to imagine that others have more power than we do. Think again. what could a person do to protect themselves? Tape a note on their chest – will pay no out-of-network provider or will pay no one that doesn’t have prior approval from me or my proxy or Sign in (with attached sign-in sheet) if you’re going to do anything to or for me. Smaller scale: I had some skin tags removed. Turns out my insurance doesn’t cover cosmetic procedures. The dermatologist never mentioned this. I didn’t know until I got the bill. I’m sure they know all the ins and outs of insurance. Why didn’t they let me know that this wasn’t covered? I would still have it done, but it would be nice to know. I asked a specialist office recently how much the visit would cost me. They didn’t know. How can we accept a system when they don’t know? And Massachusetts is a transparency state.
How is it that health care cost can be so opaque and illogical? Where are the hue and cry? Why don’t we expect hospitals and doctors to know and communicate cost? If you or someone you know has never been affected by this, wait a minute.