Thursday, November 15, 2007

A true medical story

The other day, I took Child #1, the one who broke his wrist six weeks ago, for his second follow-up visit with the orthopedic surgeon. The appointment where the doc tells you to trash the splint.

I also took the bill, convinced someone at the doctor's office had mistakenly input the wrong billing code.

Child #1's bones didn't need resetting. There was no call for surgery. As breaks go, it was simple and corrected with a cute blue splint held on with velcro.

Why, then, did the orthopedic surgeon bill Blue Cross just under $700.00 for our last visit? A visit that, generously speaking, lasted 15 MINUTES.

Here's the bill:

New Patient: $ 73.00
Office Visit: $526.00 (YOWSER!)
Medical Equipment $ 75.00
Total billed to Blue Cross: $674.00

PATIENT'S RESPONSIBILITY: $338.61

Holy freaking Toledo!

Had a very civilized (seriously, I'm not being sarcastic here) chat about the cost of a 15 min. office visit, the value of years in medical school, socialized medicine, how washing dishes would rehab Child #1's wrist.

At the end, the doctor shook my hand, thanked me for the discussion, told me to write him a letter explaining what amount I felt would be reasonable and promised that he would make that amount work!!

Ladies and Gentlemen, I am changing the face of American medicine DOCTOR BY DOCTOR!

Probably Hillary Rodham Clinton will be contacting me tomorrow to ask my advice on the American healthcare system. Probably she'll want to blurb my book. Then she'll tell everyone on her MySpace to go buy it. That's like 33,372 people!

But. First things first. HOW MUCH SHOULD WE PAY DR. ORTHOPEDIC SURGEON???

A couple of things to keep in mind: Off the top, Blue Cross deducted $122.98 from the bill as per their contract with the doctor. Blue Cross will pay $212.41, sticking us with the remainder of $338.61. Blue Cross did not pay one cent toward the splint, (but would've paid for a cast. Who knew?)

What do you think? How much should we pay?

13 comments:

PJ Hoover said...

Wow - the squeaky wheel ...
But seriously. This is so true. How awesome that you actually tried and got him to reduce it!
You should pay 20%. Pretty standard amount?

Beth said...

Hi, thanks for visiting me!

Wow...that sounds crazy...I think what the insurance agreed to pay is ENOUGH!!! Am I cheap? Do you have a co-pay/office visit fee? that should be YOUR amount. What did he do?...put a splint on and that's it? HELLO!!!! You're gettin enough Big Guy!

I DO admire his approach tho and that You can tell HIM what you think is reasonable...wow.

Barrie said...

Hi PJ!! First of all--welcome back to 2K8!!

Second, I like to think I was a polite squeaky wheel. :)

Third, when you say 20%, do you mean 20% of the $700 total bill (it was actually $674) or 20% of the 338.61 which is our portion?

Barrie said...

Hi Beth! With this plan, we don't have a co-pay. I'm sure it's pretty rare that a doctor will let you do this. I've certainly never heard of it before. :)

I like your blog, BTW. Thanks for visiting me.

gabe said...

First of all, man I sure appreciate
your story because it makes me not take our cdn. medical system for granted.

Secondly, good for you for having a civil discussion with your doctor.
It never hurts to speak honestly when
you can be polite at the same time.
A thin line, sometimes, but you did it!
-gabe

Barrie said...

Hi Gabe! Thank you for visiting. My pediatrician told me to watch Michael Moore's SICKO. He said I'd really miss the Canadian system after that movie! I may rent it this weekend.

bella said...

I'm STILL paying off medical bills for my surgery which turned out to be far more involved then anyone planned. It was a mind bloggling amount and we have very good health insurance.
While it is quite cool to be asked what you think you should pay, I also have absolutely no answer, as I have no idea.
Goes to show how used to the overcharging and insanity I am.
I admire your civil conversation!

Barrie said...

Hi Bella! One thing I really liked about the civil conversation (besides the fact that it lowered our medical bill!) is that it all happened in front of child #1. And I think it was good for him to see two people with diametrically opposed viewpoints engaged in a discussion where both parties felt okay at the end. (What a mouthful that sentence was!)

Loved your thoughtful post today.

Sherry said...

Oh can you see me bending over in supplication?!? For the fact that I live in Ontario and my OHIP pays all of this?!?? When I think of what my cancer treatment would have cost if I lived in the U.S. I could pass out...

Barrie said...

It is frightening, Sherry. I'm glad you have OHIP. I miss my OHIP days.

Trish said...

This reminds me of when we moved to NC and found ourselves pregnant. I just about miscarried right there in the docors office when I found out how much the whole flippin' thing would cost. How does anyone ever pay for this stuff? GAAAA

But some how we managed...and after a while I got used to questioning everything on the bill. You go girl! I bet Hillary is looking up your number right now.

Sara Hantz said...

OMG I'm speechless..... it's hard for me to say how much you should pay.... no more than $100

bj said...

20% seems reasonable to me, too.
bj