Monthly Archives: April 2014

Us Health Care Costs

If you’ve read much of my blog you will know that I am from England where health care is free at the point of delivery, it is not free, people pay a tax so that when they really need health care they don’t have to decide whether or not to see a doctor and lose their house in fees or to accept that they will die earlier than they would if they could afford medical care. You will also know that when I got diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma I was completely baffled by the US health insurance system with people talking about co-pays, deductibles, in-scheme and all sorts of other words and phrases I’d just never come across. Without my wife doing everything for me I couldn’t have navigated my way through the maze because, along the way I discovered that there were several billing mistakes which had to be rectified, and, wouldn’t you just know it, none of them were in our favor.

This week I got another shock from the industry known as U.S. medicine and health care. I saw my surgeon for a pre-op meeting so that he could ask how long I’d had my port in my body, prod it a couple of times, speak to the two trainee doctors who trailed around after him and then shake my hand. At the maximum he spent 8 minutes with me; his receptionist somewhat less and I’d already seen the guy who arranged the surgical appointment. I’d payed my co-pay when I was in his office and then, this week, I received an invoice for $485.00, the remainder of his fee after deduction of my $50.00 co-pay. The letter did threaten that “If this matter is not resolved in a timely manner, serious collection activity may be initiated:. Naturally I spoke to my insurance company but I ended up passing the phone to my wife as I couldn’t make head nor tale of what the insurance company wanted to know let alone what it had done simply because none of the figures they were giving matched with the ones I knew of. It turned out that the reason none of the figures matched was because the deal between my insurance company and my surgeon means that instead of receiving $485.00 from me he actually received just $90.00 from my insurer, that’s right, a reduction of $395.00!!! I find that amazing. Either he’s now working for next to nothing or his office has bloated the fee to a standard which is acceptable here in the U.S. To some extent it doesn’t affect me as I have insurance, but, if I didn’t have that insurance, I’d now owe nearly $500.00 when the physician group would have settled for less than $100.00. It seems reasonably obvious that one of the two main groups which don’t have medical insurance are the poor and unemployed and yet it would seem that they are likely to get hit with a bill almost 500% larger than the bill paid by an insurer. Yes, the U.S. clearly wants to take care of the poor and impoverished who have turned up on its shores.

I read and hear a lot about Obama care, and while I think it is better than nothing, it doesn’t go far enough. The U.S. needs to stop worrying about socialism in medicine, about government interference in making people take out medical insurance, it should, in my opinion, and I realize that I am only a guest here, move towards a system such as that in the UK, where people are taxed to pay for health care, surely the government can’t object to taxing its citizens can it?

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Filed under Cancer, Health Insurance

Out at last.

Yesterday my port was removed. I expected to feel different, as it had, after all been a physical part of my body now for more than a year. I have grown used to feeling the bump beneath my skin, of seeing the lump sticking out through my t-shirts like some enormously puffy third nipple on a particularly cold day, and now, it’s gone! Gone just like that. Well not quite so easily as the US health insurance industry threw in a couple of curved balls along the way . Having managed to negotiate all the obstacles placed along the way I have to say that the actual process went by really smoothly from my perspective. The nurses who worked with me at Memorial Outpatients in Hollywood, Marissa, Vivian and Sue were great and kept me amused, while in the OR Dr Eckstein and his team got on with things without me knowing anything about it until I came around. As I said I expected to feel different, this is, after all, a significant moment  as the last part of my chemo treatment is removed. Strangely I don’t feel different, I don’t feel elated, I don’t really feel anything about the port going except somewhat sore and a little curious to see whether or not I have another interesting scar to match the one on my neck from my biopsy.

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Filed under cancer treatment, chemo, chemotherapy, Hodgkins Lymphoma