The CT Scan Cost HOW Much??

So a couple of months ago I saw my doctor about this chronic pain in my lower right abdomen. I’d had it for about a year, sometimes barely noticeable, sometimes more noticeable, and, being a medical writer, I was certain it was ovarian cancer (don’t ask my why, but I’m convinced that this is the cancer lying in wait for me, even though I have no risk factors. Medical writers are only second to med students in terms of hypochondria).

Anyway, my doctor thought it was probably gynecologic and told me to see my gyn. But he also suggested a CT scan to rule out a kidney infection or stone. Sure, I said, and off I went to radiology.

Long story short, we still don’t know why I have this sometimes pain, but it’s not that bad and I’ll just live with it (until it turns out to be something serious and it kills me [see, I told you medical writers were hypochondriacs]).

But the pain got much worse last week when I received a bill from the radiology center for $778.62. Turns out that’s what I owe after my insurance company paid it’s part of the charge. Here’s how … Continue Reading

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Affordable Care Act cost health insurance healthcare costs healthcare reform healthcare system; Obamacare payment

Reigning in the Cost of Health Insurance, or, Why We Can’t Have Granite Countertops on a Laminate Budget

This blog comes to you courtesy of a nasty exchange on Facebook. It started with a posting about the fact that an insurance plan offered through the state exchange did not include the regional children’s hospital in its network.

This is happening around the country as insurers limit provider networks in order to keep premiums within  prescribed limits, whether those limits are mandated by the Affordable Care Act or by the employer paying for the health insurance. And it’s no secret that specialty hospitals like children’s hospitals and teaching hospitals have far higher costs than community hospitals. Reasons include the cost of training medical residents and fellows, the high percentage of Medicaid patients they see as well as the high percentage of uncompensated care they provide, and their mission to do research as well as provide patient care. They do receive additional federal and state funding to compensate — at least partly — for those expenditures, but in this day of shrinking budgets it doesn’t cover it all.

On the other hand, insurers offering policies on the exchanges must keep premiums within a certain limit based on actuarial data in their region. In addition, employers are looking for ways to … Continue Reading

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Affordable Care Act cost health insurance healthcare costs healthcare reform high-deductible health plan Obamacare

How Much for That Shoulder Replacement?

Forgive the blog silence, I’ve been online trying to sign up for health insurance on www.healthcare.gov (just a little healthcare reform humor there).

So today we’re going to do a bit of math. Don’t worry — I’m not a math person so this will be simple and painless.

We’re going back to my aunt, who was prominently featured in my last post.

She’s doing quite well ( thanks to all who sent good wishes). And she just received the first of what will be many bills.

This one was for the surgery and hospitalization. The hospital billed Medicare $11,851. Keep in mind that’s for the hospital only. Not the radiologist who read her xrays, or the anesthesiologist who made sure she felt no pain, or the surgeon who replaced her shoulder, or the visiting nurse, or the physical therapist, or the outpatient prescription medications. Just the facility charges for the surgery and three days in the hospital.

Medicare and her supplemental insurance paid the hospital $2,016 — about 17 percent of the total charges (don’t worry, I used an online calculator to figure this out). She had no copay thanks to that supplemental insurance.

If she didn’t have insurance, however, … Continue Reading

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Affordable Care Act cost health insurance healthcare costs healthcare reform healthcare system;

More Questions About the Affordable Care Act

Before I get into the questions, I want to invite you to visit the Health Care Reform page for Prevention magazine. I’m now the editor-at-large for healthcare reform for Prevention, and have a story on the ACA in the October and November issues.

You can also participate in a Twitter chat with me on Monday, September 30, from 1-2 p.m. eastern. Join in using hastag #PVNHealth. My handle is @debragordon2012.

Plus, I have a couple of questions of my own:

 

— When people say that Americans “hate” the ACA and that the ACA is “destroying” the country, what do they mean, exactly? I think most Americans don’t understand the Act. . . how can you hate something you don’t understand? And I really want to know how it is destroying the country. Really.

— Why are people so opposed to providing a way for people who can’t get or can’t afford health insurance to get health insurance? No one 65 and older seems to be complaining about the Medicare program they participate in.

I also recommend this article in today’s Washington Post, where you can read about real people and the ACA.

 

Now, onto the questions (and please … Continue Reading

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Affordable Care Act health insurance health insurance exchanges healthcare costs healthcare reform Obamacare

Your Questions About the Affordable Care Act

I can’t take it anymore. I just can’t take the lies and misinformation out there about the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and healthcare reform. Nearly ever  time I tell someone something about the Act, or answer a question, they are surprised at how the truth differs from what they’ve heard.

To that end, I put out the word to friends and others to send me their questions about the ACA. Here’s the first batch. If you have any questions, send them on. I’ll keep answering them until we run out.

Question: Are the insurers currently participating in the system locked in on Jan 1st? Can they decide to pull out during the year?

Answer: If they decide to participate in the exchanges they must provide coverage for the year so no, they can’t pull out during the year. The only reason they can cancel your coverage is if you lie on the application.

Question: How will income be calculated?

Answer: Based on adjusted gross income (AGI), which includes certain deductions. Note that income is based on your household income, not individual, and that it is based on estimated income for the following year. If you estimate wrong and received a … Continue Reading

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Affordable Care Act health insurance health insurance exchanges healthcare costs healthcare reform healthcare system; Obamacare

Step Away From that Test

My best friend turned 57 in October (but you’d never know it by looking at her; she doesn’t look a day over 45). Like most of us of a certain age, she has a few medical issues. Years of working as an editor has left her with carpal tunnel syndrome. Years of living with cats has left her with asthma. Years of sun worshiping behavior has left her with basal cell skin cancer. Years of good eating have left her with a borderline high LDL level. And, as a result of being, well, 58, she has a pain in her left shoulder. Sound familiar?

My friend recently switched doctors and found a new primary care physician who, upon hearing her medical history and current concerns, performed and ordered several tests, including:

— A pelvic exam/Pap

— A routine physical

— A baseline EKG

— A complete fasting blood panel, including a special test that measures LDL-particles (LDL-P)

— A mammogram and an ultrasound on her right breast, because the doctor felt a suspicious tissue mass (my friend has a family history of breast cancer)

— A right carotid artery ultrasound based on a bruit,  the swooshing sound the doctor said could … Continue Reading

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healthcare costs healthcare system; high-deductible health plan ineffective procedure waste

Elective Deliveries: A Sign of a Healthcare System Out of Control

My husband is always getting on me about the number of tabs I have open in my browser at any one time. I think one time I had more than 100 open.

Within the past few days, at least 10 of those tabs dealt with the same topic: medical tests and procedures that we either don’t need or that don’t work. There are simply too many for a single blog, so I’m focusing on one here and will write more about others in the coming days.

The lucky winner? Births.

Seems like an obvious medical procedure, doesn’t it? Baby is delivered when mom goes into labor or, if problems develop or mom goes over her due date, labor is induced. So why, as  Kaiser Health News recently reported, are 10 to 15 percent of U.S. babies  delivered early without medical cause, up to 40 percent in some hospitals?

Early delivery increases the risk that the baby will have feeding and breathing problems, infections, and developmental problems, requiring a stay in costly neonatal intensive care units. It also increases the risk that mothers will need caesarian sections (indeed, many of these births are scheduled c-sections).

Why the early deliveries? Convenience for … Continue Reading

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fraud get better health healthcare costs healthcare reform healthcare system; ineffective procedure payment Uncategorized waste

Healthcare Reform 2.0: Five things you need to know to grow your business in 2013

How much do you know about healthcare reform — and I don’t mean just the Affordable Care Act (aka “Obamacare”). I mean the coming tsunami of change that has the potential to completely revamp one of the most dysfunction systems in our country (as you know from reading my blog).

Do you know. . .

Why we need healthcare reform? What healthcare reform means for your employees and employer? How healthcare reform will change your interactions with the healthcare system? How healthcare reform may make it safer for you to get sick? Why healthcare reform will save you money?

If you can’t tell me the answers to these questions, then you need to block off 1-2 p.m. (eastern) February 5 for my webinar: Healthcare Reform 2.0: Five things you need to know to grow your business in 2013. You can also view it on demand.

And, as a “thank you” for reading this blog, I’ll give you half off the registration fee. Just use code GS12713 when you register.

 

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Affordable Care Act health insurance healthcare costs healthcare reform healthcare system; managed care Obamacare patient-centered healthcare payment

Preparing for a (Gulp!) Colonoscopy: What It Says About Our Healthcare System

As of November 30, I am now, as my gastroenterologist puts it, 39 + 11 years old. You know what that means! So, a couple of weeks ago I called his office to make an appointment.

I would have preferred to simply make the appointment online or even e-mailed the office, but since the practice didn’t offer this, I fought my phonaphobia and punched in the numbers. Of course, I went through five prompts before getting a live person and was put on hold for a few minutes. About 10 minutes later, I finally had my appointment.

I was told to arrive at 2:30 p.m., which I dutifully did. Then the receptionist gave me a stack of paperwork to complete. And a pen. Among the information I had to provide:

• My husband’s Social Security number, since our insurance comes courtesy of his job. Not sure why this was needed, since the receptionist made a copy of my insurance card, which has all pertinent information on it. Not to mention that in this day and age of identity theft, I don’t like giving out Social Security numbers to anyone. But the last time I refused to provide a Social Security number … Continue Reading

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Affordable Care Act customer service doctor offices get better health good health health insurance healthcare costs healthcare reform healthcare system; patient-centered healthcare prevention