The Cost of Care

I really like the new reader page over on WordPress.com main page…I have discovered many new blogs using the category search for topics I am interested in. My searching left me wondering something about my own writing though. Way back in my early writing I shared a post about my vocational call to nursing. I close that post stating that being a nurse is really the at the core of my authentic self. What I have been pondering is why I have written so few posts on healthcare and nursing. While I do not have an answer to my question, I have decided to write on this topic today.

Should Hope have a Price Tag?

Should Hope have a Price Tag?

As with so many books that get added to my reading shelf something in the books   description captured my eye. Most likely the fact that the author, a lifetime & well known journalist, penned a book on two topics near and dear to my heart too. Cancer and the cost of healthcare. The book is really a love story and the lives of Terence and Amanda would have remained unknown and unnamed had it not been for his terminal diagnosis of kidney cancer. They live an adventurous life. Her journalism career and his love of learning brings creates a grand backdrop for the novel.

It is always insightful for me, the oncology nurse, to climb inside the patient’s perspective. To hear how confusing our healthcare system is for people, hence the need for nurse navigators(the role I have been carving out since August 2011). But it is more than that. She writes about the huge swings in costs she discovered as she researched for the book after Terence’s death. In the seven years he was ill, they lived in four different states and had four different health insurance policies as a result of her job changes. Each insurance contract has a different negotiated rate for the SAME test. The hospital or other facility gets paid based on those negotiated rates. And if you happen to be one of the unfortunate American who are uninsured you will pay the entire cost–kind of like the sticker price on a new car–the better someone negotiates, the less money s/he can expect to pay.

Sadly, we in the US do not even know what all this care really costs. If you walk into the dry cleaners and want to have your shirt cleaned, at least in Connecticut where I reside, a sign must be posted disclosing the cost for such a service. In my husband’s automotive shop a huge sign hangs indicating the cost of  hourly labor. In addition service he is responsible for calling the customer and discussing a quote before proceeding with the suggested repairs. Yet I walked into the Ear, Nose and Throat doctors office for an exam. No sign hanging. I was however asked for my insurance card. A month and a half later I received a bill in the mail for $685.00; the amount I would be responsible for paying after my High Deductible insurance plan reduced the charges based on the “negotiated” rate. I have got to tell you I find this amount preposterous! I was sitting in the exam chair for about 15 minutes. There was no prior disclosure. Whoa…wait a minute…does anyone out there beside me think there is something wrong here?

We met a woman last week who offered to send us a health insurance quote for one of our young adult children who is presently uninsured. In her email with the quote she tells us that the preventative care is FREE! I respond back–that care is NOT FREE–it comes with a cost.

Thanks dear readers for listening to my rant. If you reside in the US I would urge you to give consideration to my writing. Our consumption of health coupled with our unhealthy lifestyle and our desire to live forever(well maybe not forever but we certainly have a hard time excepting death) is going to bankrupt our nation.

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4 thoughts on “The Cost of Care

  1. I don’t think I can add much to that. Having been a nurse and a patient trying to navigate through the healthcare system today, I am waiting with cautious enthusiasm at the “new” healthcare reforms and what they REALLY mean to us as people and our country. It makes me cry when I see people getting sick and suffering just because they don’t have the right (or not any) health insurance.

    I’m hoping that we as citizens will finally wake up and realize that no one will ultimately take care of us but us.

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    • True Savvy. I too get very frustrated at the gaping disparities for those who are well insured and those who have none. But the system is sick well beyond that. I too am anxious and optimistically hopeful that reform will be a start at fixing the system…I fear my optimism may be misplaced however. All we can do is wait and see…and try to help people the best we can as nurses.

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