The Scandal of Health Care

The Scandal of Health Care

Because of presidential politics, the topic of Obamacare will continue generating more heat than light during 2016. Yet this controversy often overlooks a bigger scandal: the enormous costs ladled on to our medical bills by the system’s bureaucratic jumble.

I think back several years to the time my primary care doctor blessed me with about three months of samples of prostate medication—in pre-generic days, a rather hefty savings.

A year later when I asked for more samples, he replied, “There’s so much government regulation now that I would have to hire another person just to oversee that, and we can’t afford it.”

Wildly-Inflated Costs

The Scandal of Health Care | Ken Walker WriterMy first direct experience with the wildly-inflated costs brought on by all this paperwork processing involved a friend who needed an MRI. At the time, he and I were part of the same health care cost sharing network, which carried a $2,500 annual deductible.

When he asked what an MRI would run, the woman told him a little over $2,700. When he asked what it would be if he paid cash for the test and didn’t run it through insurance, she said, “That would be $348.”

Seeing the wisdom of paying $348 instead of $2,500, he chose cash.

Both of us have since changed plans. The one I’m part of now covers any single expense over $500. For routine check-ups or minor tests under $500, I don’t even turn in the bill. I just pay immediately after requesting (and receiving) a cash discount since the doctor won’t have to fool with insurance forms.

This kind of negotiating as a self-pay patient used to intimidate me. When I saw the chance to save more than $200 a month compared to my old plan, I decided it was time to give it a try.

Tips for Saving $$$

Several months ago, my current network’s newsletter carried an article about ways to save money on health care costs. The stories in it contained a rather jaw-dropping quality.

The first tip concerned comparison shopping to get the best price and a pair of websites to start the process: and

Two letters were included with this tip. The first came from a man in Kentucky who mentioned needing an MRI after a bicycle accident. The hospital quoted a price of $4,400, but as a self-paying patient they would lower it to $829. He wound up doing even better; his doctor told him about another provider that did it for $600.

A man from Missouri who needed a CT scan contacted a medical center his urologist recommended. Their price: nearly $1,400. Instead, he called a dozen other radiology centers and found one that would do the scan for $313 if he paid for it that day. That meant a two-hour drive, but for $1,087 one can buy a lot of gasoline.

“Affordable” Care

dollar-943737_1920The cost of health care coverage is another staggering item. Right now I pay $150 a month with a deductible that works out to about $1,000 a year. That compares to a recent “affordable” plan I heard about that costs the individual $600 a month and carries a $6,000 deductible.

When an old friend told me his federally-backed plan also had a $6,000 deductible (and a $6,000 deductible for his wife), I told him, “If I had to pay that kind of money for health care, I’d go broke.”

The moral of the story: if we expect a giant bureaucracy to take care of all our health care problems, we are sadly deceived. It may take a little time, effort, and negotiating, but cost savings are there for the determined individual.


One Response

  1. I envy your piece of work, regards for all the great blog posts.

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: