There are lots of upsetting and annoying things about having breast cancer, especially twice in three years. The list is endless! However, one of the most frustrating experiences for me was trying to find pricing for doctors, hospital costs, surgery costs and breast prosthetic costs. We have insurance through my husband’s employer. It is a high deductible plan with a HSA (High Deductible Savings Account) which means that we pay for the first few thousand dollars of our medical care. Granted the double mastectomy was going to be over one hundred thousand dollars so what difference did it make? Actually, a lot! I was diagnosed in November and the surgery was in December so I easily hit the out of pocket maximum for my surgery. But January everything started over and I was going to need follow up care and to purchase breast prosthetics. I spoke to my insurance company. providers, hospitals and billing experts. No one could tell me the price for several of the services I needed including the breast prosthetics. I was forced to purchase them and wait for a bill. When the bill arrived, I cried. The cost for the breast prosthetics was over $2000 and twice as much as the cash price. I would have paid the cash price had I known but no one, including my insurance company could tell me the price. I was able to negotiate with the hospital and ended up being able to pay the cash price.
If we want consumers to be more responsible, price conscious and take an active role in their health care we need to transparency in pricing and we need real information about outcomes and performance of doctors, therapists and hospitals.
The Trump Administration is attempting to make this easier. The Wall Street Journal did a great opinion piece on this issue.
Check it out here.