Do you know what a routine venipuncture is? That’s a fancy way of saying a nurse drew blood from your arm. Do you know how much one 325mg acetaminophen tab might cost you in a hospital? That’s the generic version of a Tylenol pill, by the way, and just one will run you $1.50 at the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston.
If you’ve ever received a bill from a hospital before, you’re probably aware of the sticker shock. Even short stays as routine as childbirth can yield indecipherable bills and unbelievably high charges.
Most of us who enjoy large group health insurance probably don’t even look at the bills. We check out the Explanation of Benefits (EOB) form that gets mailed to us by our insurer to find out how much of the bill will be covered how much we’re on the hook for. The richer the insurance coverage, the less we care how much the provider charges.
Perhaps the question about rising medical expenses shouldn’t be about who pays the bill, but rather why each service or prescription or piece of durable medical equipment costs so much?
Because health care policies are so complex and the red tape you have to wade through to get answers is so onerous, we generally pay our bills and move along. Except for some people. You probably know of people who have called the billing office of a hospital or doctor and negotiated down the charges on their bill.
It may make you wonder if medicine isn’t marketed like furniture. After all, doesn’t it seem like every weekend of the year a local furniture store advertises a deep-discount sale? It’s easy to imagine the store marks up its retail prices significantly enough to offer radical sales and still clear an immense profit.
Doesn’t it stand to reason that medical services do the same thing? Only instead of advertising a sale (e.g., “This week only: strep testing and antibiotics on sale at local pediatrician office”), perhaps providers offer lower prices only to those patients bold enough to call in and complain.
Changes are coming. With expenses spiraling out of control, something had to be done, so the government stepped in with its version of a solution. However, perhaps the solution starts with each of us. Ask more questions at the point of care about costs and alternatives, read our bills and pick up the phone to question what’s on them.
As always, we’re here to help you devise ways to plan for health care and other major financial expenditures in your life.
The information and opinion in the above articles are provided by third parties and have been obtained from sources believed to be reliable, but accuracy and completeness cannot be guaranteed. This information is not intended to be used as the sole basis for financial decisions, nor should it be construed as advice designed to meet the particular needs of an individual’s situation.
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