Healthcare for Dummies

Miska has endured foot pain for a couple months now. Multiple appointments (and shots with very large needles) later, they’ve scheduled her for an MRI. We have a high-deductible insurance plan, and so we will be responsible to foot (sorry) the bill. Of course, this means I want to know how much it will cost. How much do I need to come up with by next Tuesday? Sounds reasonable, wouldn’t you think?

However, after three phone conversations, no one – no one – can tell me what the charge will be. I understand when it comes to the results that they can’t say with 100% certainty if a red tea detox for weight loss will work, because a treatment result can vary, but how on earth the price can be uncertain is beyond me. How could they have no idea the price of a treatment they are proposing. In the words of the last agent I spoke with, “We can’t follow that paper trail. It goes too far.”

Can you imagine anyone doing business with a Chevy dealer who said, “Just sign the contract. We’ll tell you in a couple weeks, after you’re home and have already put the first ding in your fender, what you owe us.” Nothing good could come of such an arrangement, other than a fatter paycheck for Mr. Car Dealer.

I’m no economist (really), but I have enough brain noodles to know that this scenario has inflated prices written all over it. If I have no incentive to watch out for my costs and (more unbelievable) if medical providers have no responsibility to tell me what in the sweet name of Mary I’m going to be charged for something, no wonder my insurance rates go up 20% a year.

The next time I receive an insurance premium bill, I’m going to write them back: “Just keep providing me insurance. I’ll tell you in a few months what I’m actually going to pay.”