Just a thought about rising medical costs

One of the main problems with medical costs is insurance itself.  My son had oral surgery today (tied to orthodontic stuff).  The cost was horrific.  I didn’t think about it twice.  Aside from the fact that the oral surgeon came highly recommended (and it was my son under the knife, after all), I had no incentive to look for someone cheaper or to bargain with the doctor.  My insurance will pay about 60%-80% of the cost, and the remainder is, to my mind, a reasonable fee to pay out of my own pocket for the procedure he underwent.

I learned this lesson a long time ago.  As befits someone as highly strung as I am, I’m a night-time tooth-nasher (bruxism).  Although I belonged to Kaiser when I got my first jaw guard (back in the early 1990s), Kaiser didn’t make jaw guards, so it sent me to an outside provider.

I saw this orthodontist for about 4 minutes, his staff made a mold, he sent the mold to the lab, the lab made the jaw guard, I went back to the office for a 10 minute fitting — and that was the end of it.  I paid out of pocket for the jaw guard ($250, which was a reasonable price to me in terms of ending headaches and jaw pain), and Kaiser paid the orthodontist bill, which came to $800!

Because the person working in Kaiser’s payment office, the one who cut the check, had no vested interest in the bottom line, Kaiser never went to that orthodontist and said what any direct consumer would have said:  “Are you out of your cotton picking mind?!  Are you actually charging me $800 for less than 15 minutes of your time, plus 10 minutes of your staff time?  No way am I going to pay that bill.”  As it was, Kaiser paid 100 cents on the dollar.

Just something to think about it….

As for me, between paying work and a needy son, I’ll be incommunicado today (or, I probably will be).  Hope you all have a lovely Friday, and please feel free to leave any interesting comments you like here, including your take on yesterday’s summit.