Life Slices: Health Insurance

Okay, here we go again.

Those of you who’ve been long-time readers will recall that I went without health insurance for several years while building my company. I’ve written posts about the “private pay discount” for health services that is relatively universal. What it means is that if you pay cash at the time of services, you get a 30% discount. I’ve used this to make the case that this 30% is funny money that drives the cost of health insurance — not necessarily healthcare — up, up, up.

Last year, I got health insurance, but I’m paying close attention to it, because I pay premiums in addition to a hefty deductible. Last fall, I decided to get a physical, because I turned, ugh, 60 in July. The doctor ran me through a lot of tests, including a cat scan of my sinuses. I told her and her office people that I did NOT want the test, unless insurance paid for it. They checked with the people who would do the cat scan, who researched with my insurance company and said it would be covered.

I got a bill for $955.

The insurance company “applied it to my deductible,” which is the same as me paying for it. But here’s the interesting part. The original bill was $1,364, which the insurance company used their “discount” to reduce to $955 (what discount?). If, however, I had walked in off the street and paid cash for the test, it would’ve cost $887, according to the business office of the clinic.

So what’s the real cost of the service? That, my friends, is the question we all ought to be asking, and one that I’m not sure universal health insurance would answer.

I have no recourse but to pay the bill, despite the fact that I would NEVER have had the test knowing it would’ve come out of my pocket. The physical problem just wouldn’t have been worth it. The fault is mine, because I trusted the doctor’s office to get it right. From now on, I’ll make the call myself.

And so it goes…


  1. thedetroitchannel says

    you’re lucky. all they wanted to check was the orifice on your face.

    me? i couldn’t sit down for a few hours.

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