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December 5, 2013 at 11:08 AM
At the end of my daughter’s annual checkup this year, her doctor asked if we had any concerns. Almost as an afterthought I mentioned the little wart at the end of one of her toes (note to self: get my kid flip- flops for the gym pool and showers!).No problem, said the pediatrician. In a flash she pared away some of wart with a small scalpel and froze what remained with liquid nitrogen on a Q-Tip. It took five minutes.
Historically, I have been a lazy health-care shopper. My family has always had insurance through employers and we’re generally healthy. I never ask what something will cost (chances are the doc won’t know anyhow) and I rarely scrutinize doctor’s bills.
That’s before I got the wart invoice.
Our doctor’s office billed $269 for the procedure, which was coded as “DESTRUCTION EG, LASER SURGERY.” Our insurance carrier, Aetna, got that reduced to $204.40, and that’s what we’re going to have to pay. For wart removal.
The New York Times this week published two more articles on the cost of U.S. medical care in its “Paying Till It Hurts” series. The series compares the costs of various procedures at hospitals and clinics around the country, and between nations. It’s terrifying. A story Monday delved into stitches costing $500 a piece. An article yesterday documented ambulance rides lasting two blocks and costing $900.
September 11, 2013 at 9:33 PM
By now, you may have noticed that individual health insurance rates are considerably more more expensive if you’re a smoker. But just how much more? The state’s Office of the Insurance Commissioner says companies are allowed to set smokers’ health- insurance rates as much as 50 percent higher, if they could justify such hefty increases.
So far, the companies whose plans have been favorably reviewed by the Commish’s office (for inclusion in the online marketplace known as the Washington Health Benefit Exchange through its Healthplanfinder tool) haven’t gone that high. Group Health Cooperative came in the highest, with a 20 percent increase for smokers. BridgeSpan Health Company (an affiliate of the parent company of Regence BlueShield) levied a 15 percent increase, and Premera and its subsidiary, LifeWise Health Plan of Washington, had 7.5 percent increases.
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