To the Editor:
Medical needs and emergencies can take a physical, emotional and financial toll on those who are suffering. Financial burdens clearly compound issues, and the high cost of medical care cripples many people. One way to lessen the burden is for all medical facilities to be as transparent as possible with their fees and how they inform patients of their care options.
In December, I learned that my annual preventive blood work was no longer covered at 100%. When the health insurance representative asked me where I had my blood work done, I informed her that it was a local hospital. She then informed me that if I had gone to a free-standing lab, I would probably would have been charged 85 -90% less than what the hospital billed my insurance carrier.
Unaware of such an option and shocked by the news, I went to the billing office at the hospital and shared what I had learned. The billing receptionist said, “You will pay substantially less for a number of tests at a free-standing lab compared to a hospital.” Knowing she’s simply the messenger and a medical consumer like me, I indicated that it’s too bad that facilities don’t make such information readily available.
My letter of inquiry, which I’m told was passed onto the appropriate department, hasn’t been answered, which is disappointing. Medical facilities, should in my opinion, provide the best care at a reasonable cost. Large, known fee disparities by medical facilities is disturbing.
My intent is simply to let folks know that one can save substantial sums of money (about $250 in my case) by potentially opting to have standard tests conducted at free-standing labs as opposed to hospitals. Of course, one may want to check with their insurance carrier too.
The Sentinel could do an investigative series on the topic. I’m sure such a series would be a benefit to medical consumers.