Monday, October 21, 2013

This Medical Bill is Making Me Ill

So, I just wrote out a check for $105 to a medical center here in town. I went there for two visits back in March ... that's right ... March. To be fair, I received the first bill in September - however, that is a long time between bill and service.

When the bill came in September, I was so annoyed that I just couldn't bring myself to pay it. We've got to come up with a word for what that is.

Reason for late-pay: I had the money, I was just too disgusted to part with it.
Being a word person, I should be able to come up with something; I'm just a little too peeved for that right now. If you think of anything, please feel free to comment.

The $105 that I owe is not what gets me so peeved ... alright, that's a lie; there's a lot I could buy with $105 - like that patio furniture I've been meaning to buy since moving to Florida. Really, it's the overall total of $1,698.00.
$1,698.00!!!
Of which, my insurance paid $1,408.00.
$1,408.00!!!
You'd think I had surgery ... or something removed. I want something that used to be inside me floating in a jar of formaldehyde for that money.

So, what was it?

Two visits with a rehab specialist. That's right. Not a doctor or a nurse or even a nurse practitioner. A rehab specialist.

I have experienced something called edema, which is swelling, usually in the legs and ankles. I decided to finally go see what traditional medicine could do for it ... other than "elevate your legs."

I saw two rehab specialists who measured my legs for those compression bandages I would never wear and told them I would never wear. And a massage that helps drain fluid from the lymphatic system. I have had great results with regular massages, so I thought, "Why not get the massage designed to treat this condition?"

It must be so much better than a traditional massage by someone who fell ass-backwards into massage school and just rubs you around. Right?

Wrong.

Neither treatment did anything and I cannot believe that those two visits were billed at $1,698.00. People buy cars for that amount of money. Not great cars, but cars! An actual vehicular conveyance that is legal to drive could be purchased for the amount of money charged me for two rehab people who didn't even look me in the eye and seemed to have no idea what they were doing.

As I finished writing my check, I inevitably came to the Memo line. You know the line when you're supposed to write in what the check paid for. All I could think to write was, "Beats the shit out of me!" or "Damned if I know."

Something is really, really wrong with our healthcare system and it's not Obamacare. After the Republicans in Congress brought our country to the brink of default over the ACA - which is nothing more than a tax credit that enables the uninsured to buy health insurance at a cheaper rate - I can't help but look at this bill and recognize what a mess we're in. If it's this hard to even try to fix the system ... even a small part of the system ... God help us if we ever try to address the actual problem of medical billing.

The ACA doesn't even begin to address the problem of outrageous medical billing so thoroughly and astoundingly documented by Steven Brill in Time magazine back in May. His interviews on The Daily Show just skim the surface, but are still excellent.
http://www.thedailyshow.com/extended-interviews/424076/playlist_tds_extended_steven_brill/424058

In closing, I would really like that $1,698.00 back, but I would settle for the $105. I could buy a couple massages for that money.