Friday, April 27, 2007

Health Insurance

Right now I have health insurance based on COBRA coverage. Recently I had a few minor blood levels checked (mostly thyroid, IIRC). I just received my insurance statement.

The lab billed the insurance company for $171.35. The discount was $139.30, for a net cost to the insurance company of $32.05. That is a discount of OVER EIGHTY PERCENT! Is this reasonable? Which is the "real" cost of the service: 32 dollars or 170 dollars? I used a lab at the local hospital because it's "in network." Recently I talked to a lab scientist who works there, and she told me that that hospital does over a billion dollars' worth of charity care a year. Is that counted at the "normal" rate or the "discount" rate, I wonder.

If I can't afford health insurance, wouldn't a blood test for $32 be more reasonable for me than $171? How would I afford the blood test to tell me the reason I had such low energy that I couldn't keep a job was because my thyroid was almost devoid of function? Given the blood test and the (pretty inexpensive) natural thyroid, Icould get the energy needed to keep a job and then hopefully afford insurance.

This is a harsh, cruel, stupid system. Would that I knew how to fix it.

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