Not long after Wayne came home from the rehabilitation hospital, I told him we should each make a guess as to how much his surgery and subsequent care would cost and then keep track of the expenses to see who guessed the closest. We didn't get around to that but it wouldn't have mattered. Our estimates would have been so woefully inadequate that it it would have made the actual bills seem even larger now that the paperwork on the charges is starting to arrive.
Last month's explanation of benefits form included some of the doctors' fees. The surgeon charged $4800 for the operation itself. We thought that was a real bargain considering it lasted about five hours. And since Wayne commented just this evening on how nice it was to do the day's activities without pain or limitation, the surgeon was easily worth far more. The anesthesiologist, however, was much prouder of his time. His fee rang in at $5500. Having worked for doctors for years, Wayne joked that the doctor wasn't charging to put him to sleep; it was the waking him up that cost so much. In the end, the surgeon came out better than the anesthesiologist in terms of reimbursement after all the adjustments, etc., were made.
This month's statement included the charges for the hospital. Keep in mind that Wayne checked in at 5:30am on Monday and was transferred to the rehabilitation hospital at 3:00pm on Wednesday so we're only talking about a little over two days. It does include the operating room and recovery as well as the artificial knees themselves but no specialized care, diagnostic procedures or unusual equipment. The grand total? $138,919. Holy bedpan, Robin...that's a lot of money!
The reality is the hospital doesn't get anywhere near that amount of money...roughly $20,000 in this instance. There's this strange game health providers play with the government and insurance companies: Charge more in the hopes you get more. I don't begrudge the hospital a fair return for its services as the care Wayne received was excellent but it's no wonder our health care system needs an overhaul with charges like these. What's wrong with a reasonable fee and reasonable payment...or is that too logical?
All I can say is thank goodness for insurance! Most years we barely meet our $150 deductible so we have little experience with these things...and that's a good thing. Needles to say, it's going to be different this year.
I have the feeling we'll be shocked again when next month's statement arrives as it will probably include the charges for the ten days at the rehabilitation institute as well as the outpatient therapy. Stay healthy, y'all; none of us can afford not to.