Thursday, December 12, 2013

I should pay my plumber more than my neurosurgeon

Yumabev made a joke about one of my posts on twitter, that I've been mulling over for a few days.

After a few days, I realized, no shit, her plumber should be making more.  You see, when you get a bill from the hospital, it is usually includes everything, including that $20 aspirin that they charged you 5 times for, but you only took once.  But I digress.

Included in that bill is the amount that the neurosurgeon is paid for the 5 hours of surgery that he performed on my head.  However, the neurosurgeon is only being paid for his time.  He didn't bring in a scalpel, anesthesia, gloves, gowns, let alone the actual device that was implanted in my head.

When you pay your plumber, you are paying for everything, including all of his overhead and expenses.  The better question is after the plumber paid for vehicle expenses to get to your home, parts, a staff at the office to take your appointment, all the inventory he/she has to carry, let alone all the specialized equipment he/she had to buy and maintain, what is he taking home at the end of the day and what is the neurosurgeon.  I'd say the neurosurgeon is taking home an amount much closer than to $1500 than the plumber is, let alone the $2500.

Why Are American Health Care Costs So High?

Best explanation I've seen of the problem with healthcare in the US. EVERYTHING is overpriced and costs to much and there is no sense in why things are charged except to screw over the patients and get as much money out of them as possible. Most interesting fact: We spend more on government provided healthcare in the US per capita than any other nation, but don't provide everyone with healthcare.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

How is anyone supposed to make sense of health care costs?

I got my bill for the hospital stay when I had my DBS electrodes installed.  Granted this did not include my stay at rehab due to my stroke or my subsequent outpatient surgery for the pulse generator.  What pisses me off, confuses me and/or frustrates me is the nonsensical billing system we have in the US.

Without giving exact numbers, the hospital billed my insurance company approximately $171k for my surgery and stays.  The insurance company paid just about $24k of that.  There is also a line that states adjustments for approximately $146k.  If you look up hospital adjustment online it states,
“Adjustment” refers to the portion of your bill that your hospital or doctor has agreed not to charge you.
Now, I understand that insurance companies get discounts for bringing in large populations of folks.  However, my insurance company paid basically 15% of what the hospital charged.  I wonder how many folks without insurance or with worse insurance than mine could possibly get the hospital even close to that value.

The fact that most people probably don't know this is even more incredible.  When I hear of doctors not wanting to take ACA or medicaid/medi-cal or some other non-premium insurance, I just have to laugh, because the premium insurance companies are definitely not paying full price, let alone wholesale prices.

UPDATE:  Another issue with this is the way co-pays are calculated.  Luckily, my insurance is a flat fee co-pay for a hospital stay.  However, if I had a percentage based co-pay, my co-pay would have been calculated based upon the original hospital bill of $171k.  Therefore, I would have been liable for 10-20% of that bill up to my out of pocket maximum, while the insurance company knew it would be paying the lower fee.

Either the insurance company is paying less than even $24k for the surgery if my co-pay is calculated based upon a percentage of the $171k.  Or the hospital is getting more money because they can take the $24k the insurance company agreed to plus my co-pay.  Either way, there is no incentive for either the hospital or the insurance company to bill the patient correctly and the patient gets screwed.  The higher the hospital makes the bill, no matter what they've negotiated with the insurance company, the more money comes out of the patients pocket while the insurance company possibly reduces what they are paying the hospital or the hospital brings in more money and the patient gets screwed.