Hey UC’ers, something pretty interesting happened today and I think its worth talking about. This hopefully doesn’t affect all of you, but if you have a “fee for service” or PPO insurance plan, or no health insurance at all, this might hit home pretty hard.
Here’s the deal, my wife was referred to get a diagnostic test last week. Nothing crazy, just a test which she’s gotten before. So, her primary car doctor’s office referred her to the hospital that is right next door to where the practice is located. And, sure enough, my wife assumed that all was fine and dandy and since she was supposed to go in tomorrow for the exam, she called to confirm the appointment today. During her phone call, she asked what the costs would be to her. We both have high deductible insurance plans, and that means that both of us pay the first $3000 of medical expenses each year, and after that, our insurance company covers the rest. This is the deal with our “PPO Insurance”, maybe you have something similar.
But, when the woman on the other end of the phone told my wife she would owe $900 because she has not met her $3000 deductible, Michaela told her right away that she would have to cancel the appointment. And thankfully she did.
After hanging up the phone she told me the deal, and I asked her where she was scheduled to get the test. “At the hospital next to my doctor’s office”, she said. WAHHHLAH!
NINE HUNDRED BUCKS for a whimpy ultrasound? Come one guys. That sounded a bit too crazy to me. I got out the computer, typed in “Ultrasound San Francisco” and came across several companies. Literally within 3 minutes, a nice lady told me that the exact diagnostic test that my wife needed would only cost us $195 if we paid in cash and did not use insurance. Simple as that.
So, as you guessed it, we’re going to go with the cheaper price for the identical service that the hospital was going to charge 900 bucks for.
Does this apply to people with UC? Maybe yes, maybe no. It all depends on your health insurance situation, and you need to make some judgement calls too.
Here are some common UC medical services that you may find much cheaper outside of a hospital setting:
- Colonoscopies (I myself almost paid a shinny nickel before I found a much cheaper scope center. ALSO, definitely realize that many GI doctors either own or are part owners in many colonoscopy centers around the world. That should be no mystery to anyone. But, if you find a colonoscopy center that offers better pricing for the exact same butt probing, your GI doctor will probably be happy to do the service there as well. Don’t worry, your GI doctor will still be getting paid pretty nicely, and you’ll potentially save alot of money too.)
- Blood Tests (come on folks, UC’ers are always getting these, and there’s TONS of local blood labs all over that are often less than half the price of hospitals for the exact same tests)
- Stool Sample Tests
- Infusions of certain medications (more and more private infusion centers are popping up these days)
One more thing to consider. Take my wife’s case for example. She needs to pay the first $3000 of her medical expenses each year BEFORE her insurance kicks in.(excluding preventative care of course) So, with that said, had she been at the $2800 mark, or maybe at the $2500 area, we probably would not consider paying for this test she needs in cash. The reason being, if this test put her over the $3000 mark, we would not worry at all about medical expenses until her calendar year with her insurance was over again. But, since she has not had any expenses yet, we’re willing to bet she won’t need anymore medical attention. We might be wrong with that bet, but again, its a decision we had to think about and made.
Good luck to you all, the health insurance world is tough to navigate. But, from the previous UC Work Survey, I know there are some insurance experts reading this website, who might have some good ideas too on how to save money and reduce costs. But one thing is for sure, for everyone who does not have health insurance, as tough as that is, think about your options. No need to pay crazy money for services which are much cheaper for the exact same thing.
Have a great September,
I started site and the eNewsletter(you can join that below) shortly after being diagnosed with ulcerative colitis in October of 2008 with severe pancolitis (when my whole colon was inflamed).
For me, it was a very rough start with severe symptoms. Getting bounced from medication to medication was not easy or too helpful. But, I did meet another UC’er, changes several parts of my diet, and of course the rest is history.
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