Monday, June 6, 2011

Health Insurance

Can I just vent about health insurance for a few minutes?  Of course I can, it's my blog.

I received a bill today for my co-pay for the surgery I had a month ago.  I was expecting this bill, so that's annoying, but the way life goes.  I was also expecting the hospital to be attempting to bill my insurance some ludicrous amount and then accepting it when my insurance offered three cents in return.  But nonetheless it is shocking to see the actual numbers.  For the whole surgery shabang they charged my insurance $11,329.  On the day of my surgery the hospital billed $600 for two iterations of a blood type test (do they really do the same test twice?).  My insurance paid $2,730 total.  Furthermore, in the past 60 days (i.e. including pre-op blood work and screening and such) doctors have billed my insurance over $30,000.  And you know what they've paid?  Just over $5k. 

Now, of course, I am glad that I did not have to pay anyone $5k, let alone $30k.  Compared to these numbers my copay is insignificant.  I am thankful that I have health insurance, and I know that many people are not so fortunate.  But is this bizarre system really the same system that health care reform opponents are so determined to fight to the death to defend?  Are these numbers based on anything?  If I didn't have insurance would they actually be billing me these ludicrous amounts, and I would therefore be paying several times more than insured patients?  Or are these numbers just pure fiction and some uninsured discount would appear? 

I know that health care costs money.  I know that it is a major issue that some people don't understand that it is an expensive commodity.  I'm sure that the medication I received and the cost of the operating room and the services of the surgeon and the anesthesiologist and all of those things genuinely cost a lot of money.  But why is the price for them something that is determined by a complicated closed doors political negotiation between my insurance company and some Medicare government employees and the hospitals and probably the CEO of  Exxon Mobil? 

These questions are rhetorical, although I'm sure some of you reading know more of the answers than I do.  I'm not well enough informed to have a strong opinion on the health reform that passed or most of the alternative proposals that were made or may be made in the future.  But I think the current system is ridiculous and I have no idea why health care reform opponents suddenly became so enamored with their current health insurance companies, because personally I'm convinced that mine is out to get me.  (They already got my gallbladder!) 


  1. health insurance is insane and very confusing. be sure to call and make sure it is the right amount. I got several bills for surgery than called and they took big chunks of money off that they should not have charged me for. good luck!

  2. You can definitely vent.

    I hate health care. I'm so lucky to have what insurance I do, and this is so so bad.

  3. I used to work for a major health insurance provider, and I can tell you that most of the amounts hospitals bill is totally at their discretion. The insurance company then decides, based on your premiums and whole host of other things, how much the procedures really are worth and pay. But it's a win win for everyone, because hospitals can take the remaining amount and write it off as a tax deduction. I once saw a claim that had "two tylenol - 10mg" for $300. I want to know WHERE that hospital was shopping, because they were getting ripped off!