At least the ankle wasn't broken ~ Brand Mix

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

At least the ankle wasn't broken

Photo: Laurel Fan (Flickr CC)

Most issues related to health care fall safely outside this blog's frame of reference. But pricing is close enough for me to share a recent experience.

My wife recently went to the emergency room for what turned out to be a badly sprained ankle rather than the break it could have been.

We just received the bill. It's for $2,742 for the general services provided at the hospital plus $719.47 for the X-Ray. I estimate that the total time we interacted with various people at the hospital (from administrators to nurses) to be no more than 15 minutes (and it was probably closer to 10). Just the general services alone equate to a billing rate of $10,968 per hour.

Which just goes to show how completely detached the charges for care are from the actual costs. In fact, when we went to the hospital, we were not paying for the visit and the care received per se--we were just presenting an opportunity for the hospital to pass on some of its overall running costs.

With our employer insurance, we are in the fortunate position as we look at the bill to just shrug, say "that's crazy" and move on. In this pricing system, we, as the consumer, play no active role and can have no hand in helping to regulate the market.

1 comment:

The Essential Orange said...

The costs of Healthcare are atrocious and the system is broken. I did some work with a retail health start-up called QuickHealth that is based in the San Francisco Bay area. Their goal is to make good basic healthcare accessible & affordable for the 1 out-of-5 Americans who either don't have health insurance or are under-insured with high deductibles. In both cases these folks would have been responsible for paying the $2000+ bill from the hospital.

A consultation with a doctor at QuickHealth costs $59. Add in the x-rays and you're looking at a $300 bill. Now that seems reasonable. Unfortunately for QuickHealth (and the un-insured), the company ran out of VC funding in this recessionary economy and instead of expanding rapidly across the country where needed, they've reduced their footprint to only four offices.

Sprained ankles are one of the most common injuries - especially amongst athletes and hikers like myself. Quick tip - the best orthopedic sport therapist in the Bay Area is in San Carlos - Ken Burns of Spectrum (650-654-1223). After consulting with doctors and limping for weeks, Ken fixed me up in 30 minutes and I was walking within a day or so. He uses the "Mulligan technique", a simple taping procedure of the tibia developed by an orthopedic therapist out of New Zealand. It's amazing.

Good luck with the ankle.

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