Despite all the changes from the HITECH act and the healthcare reform there remains a continuing problem of healthcare costs and the deductible. This was brought home to me listening to NPR on health and the podcast: Sleep My Little Couch Potato – Sleep“.
You can listen here at around minute 13:00).
The title hides a segment on the to the “Fancy Diagnosis of House
Where All Things Considered dissected the cost of procedures ordered up on “House” that is featured in a book by Andrew Holtz (The Medical Science of House MD). What was shocking was the numbers featured in the example.
- Liver biopsy: $ 8,000 – 11,000
- MRI: $ 200 – 1,000
- Splenectomy: $ 140,000 (8 days in hospital)
As Andrew said anytime you get into understanding healthcare costs
“we just don’t know (how much things cost), it depends on what variety of the procedure, in which institution (!!!), if the moon is in retrograde…it seems as with anything else in healthcare trying to nail down what seems like a simple question turns into an episode of bizzaroland”
This is continuing problem and compounded by co pays and deductibles that are rising for many people as companies try to reduce the impact of rising health care costs. In fact most polices, even ones that people would consider “good” insurance includes shared costs that might read “you pay 30%, plan pays 70%”. There are some caps on this but even for relatively simple treatments you can rapidly find yourself with big unexpected bills even with “full” medical insurance. And many of these plans have lifetime limits that may seem large (1 – 2 million dollars) but treatment of any significant condition (cardiac, cancer these being the top two killers) and you can see that maximum reached very quickly
The latest changes are trying to move the system in the right direction but the problem of medical of medical bankruptcy is likely to explode in the coming years as the population ages, coverage decreases and gets more expensive and healthcare costs continue to rise unabated.
I suggest you read the fine print now on your policy and start planning for these costs since we can typically expect to be accessing and needing more and more healthcare as we age.