Thursday, February 26, 2009

The cost of a kidney stone...

Remember that little kidney stone incident – way back in Nashville – in November? The night we spent two hours in the ER. Does anyone want to guess how much it costs to find out you have a kidney stone? Well, we finally got the bill and we are still trying figure out how it could possible cost $5,965.84 for a CT scan and a couple shots of morphine!

Perhaps the hospital was erroneously informed that we still have insurance that pays such ridiculous sums – and that we don’t pay any attention to the numbers because somebody else is paying for it. Unfortunately that’s not the case. We now have a $10,000 deductible which means we’ll be footing the bill. Which is really just fine – if it didn’t seem like highway robbery. We took out a high deductible policy because we rarely go to a doctor and didn’t want to pay high premiums for something we rarely use. We figured if we ever did need to see a doctor, the money we saved on premiums would cover the cost. And it would, I think, as long as you don’t get any pictures taken. The CT scan alone was $5,156.75.

The interesting thing is…the guy sitting at the front desk knew it was a kidney stone the minute he saw Rich doing the “kidney stone shuffle” on the way in the door. But, one does not question things when in a state of excruciating pain. If someone says you need a CT scan, then a CT scan it is.

I wonder, however, what would have happened if they’d given Rich the morphine and then shown us a menu of options – with the prices included. Perhaps front desk guy could have thrown his 2 cents into the mix and we could have saved ourselves enough money to pay for all the gas for our entire trip – twice!

Live and learn…


RVingRoadTrip said...

We have been considering raising our deductible as well. It is situations like yours that has made us scared to do so. I guess you can always try to haggle it down. Doesn't hurt to try.

By the way, my wife and I ate at Waffle House today and thought about you guys while we were there. The waffle was good as usual.

Anonymous said...

Hey Con,

I have heard that hospitals will work out things and take some things off of the bill if you are paying out of pocket...I think it would be worth contacting the business office.

2 more weeks until we get to hug you all!!! (:

Missing you!

DougPhillips said...

I am a Canadian & curious about your opinion in the current health care squabble in the U.S., especially in light of your hospital experience. In Canada such an experience would have cost me $0 - no deductible, no co-pay, no private insurance premiums.

Do you favour:
- a public option
- single payer
- private insurance with some minor changes
- leave things as they are
- some other option?

Connie Bendickson said...

Hi Doug,
I know this probably sounds crazy coming from someone who is passionate about health and lives in the U.S., but I honestly have not been keeping up on Obama's health plan proposal and haven't spent time trying to discern what would be best. My ultimate health plan would be one that supports people preventing disease, getting healthy, and staying healthy. I believe this can best be accomplished through nutrition, exercise, cleansing, and rest. Unfortunately, there is no money to be made in organic veggies, walking, fasting, or I don't expect to see any of these on the healthcare agenda anytime soon.

DougPhillips said...

Thanks for your reply Connie. I am still mystified by the American view of health care. Here in Canada there are well-publicized programs that support "people preventing disease, getting healthy, and staying healthy." But when we need medical treatment, eg for a kidney stone, it comes at no direct cost. We pay for it with our taxes. I think it's a pretty good deal. I can be anywhere in the country and expect to get a similar level of care and treatment, just by showing my Health Card. No need to haggle with a hospital over a bill. There is no bill. But our universal health care doesn't cover everything. It's universal in that it covers everybody, not everything.

A lot of us have insurance, either privately or through our employment, to cover things like prescription drugs, dental care, vision care, travel insurance, chiropractic care etc. or "extended" care for things like ambulances or a hospital room upgrade, eg. to a private room. Both my wife and I are retired. We pay $100/month for such a plan. When we reach 65 some of these extras - prescription drugs and vision care, and likely more (I'll let you know in a couple of years) - are covered.

I am intrigued by your comment that "there is no money to be made..." I think it's fair to say that most Canadians don't view health care as a marketplace. I don't think any of us worries about going broke because of our medical expenses.

Again, thanks for taking time to reply.


Connie Bendickson said...

Hi Doug,
Thanks for writing back - I appreciate hearing your perspective being from Canada. Could you email me directly at I'd like respond via email instead of via the blog. Thanks! Connie