They say the occupy movement is unfocused — it’s about all these various things we’re upset about — but a lot of the movement is about the lack of transparency in between bureaucracy and us common folk.
When I got home yesterday, I went through my mail and discovered a “explanation of benefits” mail from a recent “surgery” I had on two pilar cysts on my head. The doctor’s office never knows about costs — they don’t really care about how much you end up getting charged, as long as you pay it. Even with medical insurance from work, the two cysts removed cost me $550. Last time I had two cysts removed it was $300, so I was a little surprised that the cost went up $250. But I haven’t found a way to identify how much any medical interaction will cost in advance of the treatment… it always has to be a big surprise after the fact.
Another example… I went to a regular yearly gynecological exam a while back, which is covered by my insurance. Or is it? The gynecologist decided to do an ultrasound to check out my polycystic ovaries which — big surprise — still had cysts on them. That procedure wasn’t covered by the free annual checkup description, as it was considered diagnostic, and ended up costing me a few hundred bucks.
Meanwhile, I’ve decided to use my dental insurance and get my teeth cleaned up — my insurance covers two cleanings a year — the dental hygienist spent two sessions in one month to finish my cleaning (it’s been a while since I’ve had insurance) and wants me to come back in four months for another cleaning. The dentist filled a few of my back molars — which I haven’t received a bill for yet, but I assume will be a few hundred bucks.
What I’d like is transparency in medical billing. While your medical choices shouldn’t only be determined based on the cost, why can’t you find out the price of services in advance of the procedures? The admin at the doctor’s office always looks at you like your off your rocker when you inquire about such things. Either they don’t know or they don’t want to tell you.
While I’m relatively healthy, I also have some health issues I should look into… but it’s so hard to know which to get checked out and which to ignore. If I had a better understanding of how much every piece costs (a menu of the cost to get one cyst removed versus two, or to get blood work to find out if i’m vitamin deficient) would be ideal.
Instead, I’m stuck with surprise bills a few weeks after. Do you know of a medical operation that has transparency in costs? I’d like a menu of procedures with the prices attached to them, and a column that shows the price if you have certain insurances. Why can’t they just have this?