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Cancer: Colon Message Board


Cancer: Colon Board Index


[B]Run Away Health Care Costs: Being Sick isn’t the only “Sickening Situation”[/B]

[B][FONT=Arial][SIZE=5]I[/SIZE][/FONT][/B]n another forum a person compared the price of a colonoscopy in the U.S. to the same procedure in Spain. He said for what we pay in the U.S. a person can have a colonoscopy “and” a week’s paid vacation in Spain.

Throughout our employment years the wife and I enjoyed free health insurance - benefits provided by our respective employers. Now that we are retired we can remain within the group as long as we maintain the coverage [I]through [/I] our former employers and pay for the coverage ourselves. Here there are two advantages: Group rates are less than street rates and, as members of a group, we can not be denied coverage as long as the group exists. However, if for any reason we should allow the coverage to lapse, such as failure to pay monthly premiums, we can “never” rejoin the group.

Health care costs are our greatest expense. Even at group rates we are paying $8,000 U.S. per year, and every year the rates go up. Around $60 per month this year over last year – far outstripping any cost-of-living increases seen in out retirement income. Not only do premiums go up, so do the co-payment. Fortunately, once we reach age 65 we will be eligible for federal assisted Medicare and our regular insurance will become “supplemental coverage” at reduced rates.

Using the handy oanda.com online currency converter $8,000 equals:

10,316.9 Australian Dollar
4,388.85 British Pound
9,888.80 Canadian Dollar

Placing the blame: I do not see the insurance companies entirely at fault, not when I see copies of the payment requests made to my insurance company. In 1993, $60,000 for a 5-day stay, triple bypass heart surgery. In 2004, $45,000 3-day stay for Angioplasty - coronary stent. That procedure lasted about an hour. A crisis arose during the procedure when a downstream glob of plaque broke loose and clogged the new stent. Because of the pain I came out of the twilight sleep like a shot out of a cannon. Only some fast action by the doctor saved the day.

Oddly enough, what is billed by the medical provider is not what the insurance company pays. Everything, and I do mean everything, is governed by pre-agreed upon contract rates between the service provider and the insurance company. Yet, it seems medical service providers always bill above contract rates - at street rates. Medical providers are prohibited by contract to bill covered patients for the difference between the street rate and the contract rate. Yet, unscrupulous service providers will do so. Other than co-payments always check with your insurance provider before paying any “mystery” medical bills that arrive at your door. One clinical service in our town is famous for billing anyone who so much as drives by “their” door.

Meanwhile, CancerDad, don't let the insurance company bully you around! Futhermore, for whoever it may concern in the U.S., Social Security disability is not to be overlooked.

Haley, keep a close eye on the paperwork. This goes for each of us.

--RD





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