With Medicare eligibility looming and my good genes and wholesome life-style, I made a superb argument (to myself) to keep away from shopping for medical insurance. My relationship with the medical institution was largely hands-offIn addition, I assumed I had all that anybody actually wants – a satellite tv for pc geo tracker with its purple rescue button and life flight insurance coverage. Nonetheless, the fateful phrases of my retired veterinary pal stored speaking in regards to the importance of having a screening colonoscopy.
It gnawed at my serenity when he stated:
“Nobody has to die from colon most cancers; in the event that they do, it’s their very own fault.”
That was two years in the past.
I lastly determined to get the freaking colonoscopy
On prime of my rising nervousness over my pal’s clever phrases, my internist in San Francisco was relentless in sending me requests to have my labs performed. Lastly, I made a decision to reply the knock on the door.
Concurrently, one other good pal, a doctor, and CEO, was working feverishly at his digital well being firm that makes use of AI to raised measure and ship high quality care. Between my nagging guilt and the high-tech inspiration, I got down to get the freaking colonoscopy.
That was two months in the past.
I reached out to my San Francisco physician whom I pay money to on yearly foundation. I try this so he’ll take my calls and regulate me. And likewise get me some (barely) discounted lab companies.
He referred me to a GI physician whom he trusts and would give me a most well-liked charge. I known as his workplace and made an appointment. Out of curiosity, I requested the receptionist, “How a lot do you cost for a screening colonoscopy?”
Figuring out I paid money with out insurance coverage protection, she was fast to reply, “The entire process not together with the anesthesiologist is $8500.” I thanked her and hung up the telephone.
Hmmm, what else might I exploit that cash for?
After which I started to suppose by way of the significance of the process for my very own well being and well-being in contrast with different makes use of of the money. Say, a “scuba journey to the Sea of Cortez”, or “my grandson’s school fund.”
It’s onerous to trade-off a possible future profit towards a superb use of that money now. So, I began calling round.
Once I’m not working in California, I’m residing in Utah. I known as some Salt Lake Metropolis medical doctors, which appeared logical. Dinners in Utah are not less than 30% cheaper than dinners in San Francisco. Maybe colonoscopy charges may comply with that development.
After a few calls, I received two quotes — one at $6,500 and the opposite at $5,000. Nonetheless a bit of change, as they are saying, however somewhat bit simpler to digest.
Colonoscopy buying in Missoula
Throughout my hunt, I used to be renting a trip place in Hamilton, MT, so thought I’d do some colonoscopy buying simply north in Missoula too. What have I received to lose?
I known as the Group Hospital there and requested for the Colonoscopy Division. I instructed the receptionist immediately that I used to be a self-pay affected person (code for no insurance coverage). And, that I used to be calling round to get the most effective pricing.
She put me by way of to the billing division. The useful workers member knowledgeable me that the price for a screening colonoscopy was $3,500, however that there’s a 40% low cost for self-pay sufferers.
Associated content material: A Tale of Cost and Care: Blook on the Sidewalk
After some dialogue and clarification, we settled on $2,000 for the process. I booked the appointment instantly. That was two weeks in the past.
My screening colonoscopy expertise
Wendy, the clinic nurse, and I grew to become pleasant. She made my appointment and received my handle to ship the prep equipment. She known as me the night time earlier than the appointment to verify issues have been going properly. And she or he jogged my memory to indicate up somewhat early for registration.
She additionally instructed me the place to park and which entrance to the hospital to stroll by way of. Wow! Nice customer support in healthcare. That is new.
Once I arrived on the day of the process, I used to be politely greeted and directed to a seating space to attend. I waited solely about ten minutes earlier than I used to be known as as much as the entrance desk.
Surprisingly, the lady on the desk already knew that I used to be a “self-pay,” and confirmed the 40% low cost. To this point, so good.
Smiling, she knowledgeable me that she might give me a further 20% off if I paid the process in full that day. The overall grew to become $1,680. What an enormous break from the whopping $8,500 the hospital in San Francisco wished to cost me.
I smiled again and stated, “Properly in that case, I’ll take two!”
Why is there such an enormous variation in pricing for a screening colonoscopy?
I received curious in regards to the calculus of why the identical process might have such a swing in price from metropolis to metropolis. So, I known as one other pal who’s a knowledge science knowledgeable and instructed him my story.
He did his finest to throw some gentle on a few of the causes, though we’re going to want one other name. He defined, amongst different issues:
- the complicated eco-system of payers and suppliers
- small hospitals vs. giant
- the chance adjustment equations for colonoscopies particularly.
However that was properly after his, “How’d it go?”
“Backside line, pun supposed, the physician gave me the 10-year‘ corridor go’,” I stated.
Admittedly, after I left the cashier, I had some second and third ideas in regards to the latest transaction. I questioned if certainly they’d gotten the price proper and in the event that they did, hoped they’d get the process proper. Hell, I paid extra for a dental crown the week earlier than.
I went on to share extra in regards to the high quality of care I felt I had obtained from the Group Hospital. In different phrases, each the medical doctors and the prep nurse have been superior. They have been environment friendly, assured, and personable within the real ways in which made me really feel like I used to be seen as a person and never simply as a affected person.
The prep nurse heard that I received my free COVID-19 check on the Excessive College in Hamilton. She shared that her daughter was one of many Nationwide Guard Troopers assigned there that day.
The physician got here in and knowledgeable me that these outcomes weren’t in but. However to not fear as a result of he and the crew (of two) have been simply going to double up on the protecting gear.
The O.R. was smaller than most. I solely know this as a result of the anesthesiologist stated, “It’s somewhat cozy in right here Stephen, however I’ll have you ever out of right here earlier than you realize it.”
As I used to be coming to after the process, the physician — on his method out to throw hoppers on the bitterroot — instructed me he appreciated the nice job I did on the cleanse the night time earlier than. He additionally instructed me that the whole lot seemed nice.
“Perhaps I’ll see you on the river considered one of today, however not right here once more for one more 10 years.”
The underside line
Nobody has to die from colon most cancers. In the event that they do, it’s their very own fault — until, in fact, they reside in San Francisco.