A personal note on healthcare costs

A little over a year ago, I felt very mild chest pains.  At the time, the issue is whether I should have it checked out or not.  I was advised to go to MGH Emergency.   Eighteen hours later and after $7,000 of medical expenses incurred (paid by my insurance), I was released.  They had found nothing wrong.  However, they told me that their “heart stress test” had not been sufficiently rigorous and advised me to have another at another large cost.  I did take a second test, and nothing wrong was found.

I was pleased that I received such good and thorough attention, but it suggested to me that our health care system is out of control.  It was a close call as to whether I was going to have it checked out.  This would have led to a cost of $0.   Having it checked out cost more than $7,000.  Shouldn’t there have been something in between, something that involved one or two tests only, followed by monitoring of the situation?  I know that if I had been required to pay for 10% of the costs, I would not have requested this first class treatment.

I don’t know what the solution is.  But it appears to me that healthcare costs are out of control, and they are only going to get worse.

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3 Responses to “A personal note on healthcare costs”

  1. Anonymous Says:

    I ran into a similar situation at a college health clinic–I was experiencing strange flu like symptoms but also enlarged lymph nodes. The Doc at the clinic thought it was lymphoma (cancer), so she had a $10000 CT scan ordered (thank you insurance…). I must say it is hard to think logically about the situation when a doctor tells you she’s almost sure it’s lymphoma!

    When the CT scan turned up negative for lymphoma (hey, I was happy but confused!), I went to a local ear nose and throat doctor for a more specialized follow-up. He immediately declared (literally, within 2 minutes of looking down my throat and briefly at my chart) “this is obviously mono” (mononucleosis)!

    As a young healthy male with absolutely no history of cancer in the family on either side, I’m not convinced the CT scan was worth the money or the trouble. Heck, I could have taken a red-eye flight to the best hospital in the nation and it would have been cheaper than misdiagnosing me with cancer.

  2. JR Says:

    Well, not having it checked out was not certain to be free. After all, if you had had a heart attack or other heart condition go undetected because you didn’t pay for it, it would have led to a high cost in the future (+ potential stress costs).

  3. Jorge Says:

    Orlin, please, we need that you update your blog :-).

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