|It costs a lot to keep these kids healthy.|
Deborah’s doctor thought she should be tested for celiac, but when we went to the hospital for the lab work, I wanted to know how much it was going to cost us first. Since we have a high deductible plan, we were going to be paying for the entire thing out of pocket.
The lady went into the back office for a long time before she finally came back out and said, “If we bill you through your insurance, it will cost you $1089. You will need to pay all of that yourself since you haven’t met your deductible.” (I don’t remember the exact amount except that it was between $1000 and $1100.)
“Well we can’t pay that,” I said.
“Another option is that we can bill it as if you are uninsured. If we do that, we can give you a 66% discount, and if you pay today, we’ll give you an additional 20% discount. Then it will cost you only $326.”
So in other words, the fact that I have insurance is hurting me.
$326 was still too much money for me so I decided that little Deborah probably didn’t have celiac anyway.
A week later, another son would need a celiac test. Then a brilliant idea came to me. As long as we weren’t running things through my insurance, why not call around and get a bid from all of the hospitals?
I was on hold forever with one hospital so I finally hung up. Then I called another. A nice lady answered the phone and immediately look up the cost of the Celiac panel. “That will cost you $42,” she said.
“What?!!” I asked her.
“But if you pay on the same day of service, we’ll give you an additional 40% discount, so it will only be $26.” I was floored.
“Are you sure?” I asked. “The other hospital was going to charge us $326.” She put me on hold for a while while she checked with the higher-ups at the hospital.
“Yeah,” she said. “I double checked with everyone and those are the correct fees.”
I went right into that hospital, gave the lady the exact same test order I had given the first hospital, and got both of my children tested. I had to pay an extra fee for the blood draws, but I still paid about $80 for Celiac panels on two children. How is it possible that there could be such a huge difference in health care costs? I can’t even wrap my head around it!
The biggest irony is that even if we had met our deductible, we still have to pay 20% of our insurance’s negotiated rates. What that means is that if I had gone with my insurance company’s preferred provider, I still would have paid more than five times more what I paid by going out on my own.
And now we are trying to get everybody insurance?
The moral of this story is if you have an expensive medical test or procedure, call around! Don’t assume your insurance is getting you the best deal!