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Tuesday, March 13, 2012

A Life Lesson

Have you ever paid attention to how much specific health procedures cost?  Have you ever asked?  Have you ever looked at your bill or explanation of benefit statements?  Recently one of my children was suffering from ear infections and it was decided that we would get tubes put in his ears.  This did not seem like a huge deal to me, but since we have a high deductible health insurance plan with a health savings account I did not want any surprises and decided to investigate. 

Our ENT doctor informed us of the days and locations he performed his procedures and I hit the phones to find out when and where my son would have the procedure.  My findings were eye opening to say the least.  First of all, I was to receive three bills: one from the location of the procedure, one from the ENT and one from the anesthesiologist.  No issue here, except for the fact that the person performing the actual procedure was getting paid the least! 

Then, when it came to the location of the procedure I was informed the cost for the facility alone would be between $1000-$2000 if it was performed at the hospital downtown and half that cost if performed at a surgical center on the outskirts of town.  Wait, were they telling me that I could pay half the cost and not even have to deal with the parking of downtown?  Sold for half price at an off campus location.  I have since made many more phone calls for the more recent medical procedures my family has needed and have had similar epiphanies. 

What if I hadn't made that first phone call to see what procedures cost?  What if I didn't have a high deductible health insurance plan to entice me to find out the costs of medical procedures?  What if more people had the mindset of finding out medical costs the same way they find out the costs for other commodities like appliances, clothes, etc?  Would it help change the medical and insurance costs across the board?  Who knows, but it certainly reaffirmed my decision to have a high deductible health insurance plan with a health savings account and changed the way I shop for medical care.