Saturday, January 24, 2004

Looking at Medical Bills

Insurance and medical bills are so whacky. I recently had some lab tests done at a local hospital. The Hospital billed $175 for one of the lab tests. My insurance company allowed only $41 of those charges. I paid $8. Another one of the tests, the hospital charged $143 for and the insurance company allowed $11. I paid $2.25. What kind of nonsense is this? The hospital knows what the insurance company is going to pay for these various tests - why the huge discrepancy? I've had it explained to me that the hospital keeps jacking up the price in the hope that the insurance company will agree to pay more, but this big of a difference? Come on. Now if these high charges were truly justified and considering that the insurance company only pays a small portion of these charges, then the hospitals should be broke. Obviously they are not, so their charges are bogus.

It makes me wonder if I had no insurance and needed these tests, would I be paying that full price? I think by law, the hospital couldn't discriminate and give me a lower rate, simply because I didn't have insurance. So my guess is, that I would pay that higher rate. So maybe that's how the hospital makes up it's shortfalls - on the backs of those who can't afford insurance. Of course, any person who didn't have insurance would be asking what this was going to cost them before taking the test and most likely they would decide they don't really need that test (even if they do). Of course the hospital can't tell a huge conglomerate like Blue Cross to shove it, so they continue to play this game. Think it's time for another letter to the ol' congressman. Lest one think that the hospital is trying to screw the insurance company by hyperinflating their charges, well, I have no doubt that the insurance companies are hosing all of us - are 20% yearly premium increases year after year, really justified? I sure hope the Dems can fix this mess, but with the constant Washington stalemate politics, I hold out no great hope.  

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