Saturday, December 18, 2010

Expensive Urgent Care

Several years ago, I took my family off my employer-sponsored health care because the premiums had become astronomical. Even with the district sponsored contribution, my out of pocket expenses for my wife and two was exceeding $12,000 out of pocket. And my family doesn't consume much health care - often not much more than our yearly check-up and immunizations. Thus, we pursued a catastrophic plan for them - with $7000 deductible. So, over the years we have saved a lot in premiums, though we haven't actually had "extra" money to put into the HSA that we qualified for.

It all came around this month when my wife sliced her finger while cutting vegetables. It was bare a half inch long, and not that deep, but it would not stop bleeding for nearly forty-five minutes. So, after a call to the doctor - it was a Sunday evening - we headed off to the urgent care clinic for five stitches. Initially, the clinic was deceptive, as always, about the cost, but we made our insurance situation clear. The clerk took our insurance and said it looked like we simply had a $100 co-pay for this procedure. That would have been nice.

The clinic's bill came this week - the bill is $1,500. For twenty minutes in a room and five stitches. And that doesn't even cover the doctor's bill - we're still waiting on that one. We haven't begun to negotiate, but conventional wisdom says they'll shave off 10-15%.

And that is the problem with American health care.


Anonymous said...

Of course, you're in a lousy position to negotiate after you've already received the service. This is part of what makes the "shop around for health care" argument weak. Of course, it works if you're having elective surgery, but nobody wants to negotiate or shop around when they're sick.

Hope all is well with the finger:)

mmazenko said...

Exactly. The people who argue for simple market solutions generally don't have any experience with that "free market."