Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Sticker Shock

I got my insurance recap for the visit to Dr. Mayo’s office. A few hundred dollars for the consult, a few hundred for the x-rays, and a whopping $1,999 for the CT scan.

I guess I was expecting a large bill, but not quite that much. Since I’m paying out of pocket I am experiencing a wee bit of sticker shock. It’s a good thing we didn’t decide to renovate the kitchen this year! I needed a CT scan far more than that 36” range with double oven.

When Perry and I decided to do the high deductible health care plan last year, we thought it was perfect for us. We are healthy and pretty much never go to the doctor. Wellness was covered 100%, and that’s the only thing we ever utilized. Why pay high premiums when you don’t need to?

So last year we were happy with our decision to go on the high deductible plan. And this year too, until August, when I became the proud owner of an expensive medical condition. I’m just about to hit my $3,000 deductible, but not quite … unless something else unexpected comes along before the end of the calendar year, but let’s hope not.

I think it’s good that as a consumer I’m forced to know what health care “really costs.” That prevents me from doing stupid things, like going to the emergency room when I stub my toe or eating fast food every day. I already take responsibility for my body and my health but I know some people don’t, so I guess truth in billing is a good thing.

The CT scan was about 10 minutes (after more than an hour wait) of being put into a donut-shaped machine and holding really still. I know it’s expensive because the technicians are highly trained and have to calculate a whole bunch of variances based on what the CT scan spits out, and there were two of them, and the machine’s expensive, and it uses a lot of energy. I’m not disputing a couple of grand (and I’m happy to pay it since it proved I didn’t need to have a second surgery on each leg – the CT scan was much cheaper and easier to recover from).

But I suspect this is a harbinger of more shocking bills to come, so I am bracing myself. Since it’s open enrollment time, I’m also changing back to the more expensive health care plan offered by my employer. Even though I know Aetna is going to initially refuse to pay for my surgeries until I appeal and eventually threaten to sue them, I would like to know that at the end of the day my maximum out of pocket and deductibles will be lower. Guess it’s OK to start eating more fast food.

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