Wednesday, August 30, 2006

It's Only Money

I know that most of us in the OC have frequent concerns about money, the cost of good health care and having our diabetes needs met now and in the future. I think about it a lot.

I needed to document some expenses for my '05 Health Care Spending Account at work and ordered an itemized hospital bill for my broken ankle surgery. I had heard the stories about "charging $5 for an aspirin" and didn't think much about it, until the envelope with 7 pages of expenses came in the mail yesterday.

Can you believe these charges?.............
  • finger-stick blood sugar test $15
  • one 250 mg tablet of oxycodone $22
  • one 75 mcg tablet of synthroid $17
  • one titanium plate (to hold the bones together) $560
  • 5 minutes of instruction on using crutches $300
  • one "Darth Vader" air cast $275
  • one ace wrap $20

But the real whack upside the head was the insulin. I saw the first entry, "insulin/Humalog", $35 and thought, "well, that's pretty much in line - not too bad". Then, the same day I saw three more $35 entries. I called the billing department as I had a couple other questions and the rep said, "oh, they use a new bottle for each injection to avoid cross-contamination". A new bottle for my 3 unit dose to cover lunch? And throw the rest away? Good thing I was only there for 2 days. I then phoned my HMO case worker and we talked about this and she said this particular hospital had recently re-evaluated their policy and they were taking multiple doses from the same vial for each patient.

I had good coverage for the stay and am thankful that there was only a $500 co payment on my part. The total bill for the surgery and 2 nights was $17000. Go figure. Things do seem to be spiraling out of control in a big way and I don't know what to do about it.

It didn't help that the nursing care was fair, at best. I had asked for a toothbrush more than once and was never brought one. Beause of the diabetes I was supposed to have been sent home with detailed written instructions about wound care and inspecting the incisions along with several sets of new dressings (somebody forgot). When I was talking to the surgeon's PA after I got home, she asked how the staples looked and I told her I didn't know I was supposed to take the leg out of the boot. She said it was very important that everything be inspected 3x daily, per the "handout" so a runaway infecction didn't set in. She said to do so immediately while she was still on the line. I said "but I don't have any new bandages" and she suggested I use a minipad. I told her I was out and could I use a tampon instead? ...........she thought I was kidding; I was not.

I'm not planning on going to the hospital anytime soon, but, if so, I will ask for an itemized bill right away while things are still fresh in my mind. And I will not let my questions go unanswered.

11 comments:

mdmpls said...

Just curious - which hospital you were at?

A few years ago I had my appendix removed at Methodist Hospital in St. Louis Park. When I was brought into the ER, I told the nurse I had taken my insulin but did not finish my breakfast because my stomach hurt. The Doc determined I should be put on an IV with some sugar water - just to prevent me from having any reactions prior to surgery.

But once surgery was complete, no one bothered to take me off the sugar IV drip. When I was finally awake and aware of what was going on the next morning, my BG was over 400.

The kicker is that several weeks afer I was out of the hopsital I received a phone call asking me make a donation since I had recently stayed there. That poor volunteer sure got an earful from me as I recounted my story and told her I would NEVER give them money or stay there again!

Minnesota Nice said...

The one, the only - you said it first.
They are "supposed" to be a superior hospital because they are considered "private".
All of my diabetes records are with the Park Nicollet Clinics and since they are affiliated with Methodist, I asked the ambulance to take me there. I wanted them to know the status of my diabetes in case I zoned out and couldn't communicate.
The truth always reveals itself, doesn't it? Thanks.

Scott K. Johnson said...

Ddddid you say $17000, as in seventeen THOUSAND dollars, or was that a typo with an extra "0" in it?

Minnesota Nice said...

Seventeen thousand is correct. There were a lot of charges for the operating room and a whole page for different IV's during the surgery..................and by the way, the surgeon's fee was in a separate bill.
I am truly not defending the hospital, but it was "the nine ankle weekend" when they had nine surgical repairs. I came in on a Friday night and was not operated on until Saturday afternoon.

Kevin said...

So much of that is ridiculous it's hard to know what to even say. I'm not the most insulin conserving diabetic out there (I change my sites like clockwork rather and am often tossing 20 or so units out), but the gross order of magnitude difference of throwing out 3 MONTHS worth of insulin is very hard to square.

And $15 to test your blood sugar?!?! I'll do that for ya and only charge $5, how's that sound?

Lori Rode said...

Egads! I don't have any insightful comments. Let me just repeat. Egads!

cHoCoMiLkRoCkS said...

i can't believe how much that costs. i also can not believe they throw out insulin after every vial. couldn't they have just kept that one vial for you???

anyways, yep, i'm feeling calmer today. thanks for stopping by my blog.

vicki

MileMasterSarah said...

which hospital did you say that was? Im switching my care to Park Nicollet in November....Anyhow, that doesn't seem to be the best use of monies, the insulin thing itself is insane!

Minnesota Nice said...

Sarah, I cannot get in to comment on your blog (I guess because of the blasted beta deal).
But, yes, my clinic is Park Nicollet, and yes, I have met Dr. Fish.
I will try to figure out the snags so I can write you a longer response about the system and about Dr Fish.
Thanks.
Kathy

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