Thursday, March 2, 2017

The Curmudgeonly Consumer--Breast Cancer Chronicles Part 2

On Tuesday I met with a radiation oncologist to discuss my options for radiation treatment after my lumpectomy next week. There are three:

1) A three week, once-a-day treatment where they shoot targeted radiation at you. Requires the tumor to be small and not too close to the skin,

2) A five-day, twice-a-day treatment where they insert a balloon into the area where the lump used to be. A hassle because you have leads to the balloon sticking out of your skin for a week.

3) A five-to-eight week, once-a-day treatment that appears to be the fall-back if you're not a candidate for the other two.

The doctor went over each of them, discussing success rates (all very good) and side effects (all minimal, though some less than others).

When he finished, he said, "Do you have any other questions?"

"Just one," I said, "How much do each of these cost?"

His eyebrows shot up. "I don't know," he said. "No one ever asks that."

"Really?" I was astounded. "Why not?" (Because I know I'm cheap, but I can't be the only cheap person in the Dayton area.)

He shrugged. "Most people just figure their insurance will cover it."

As will mine. At 80%. Don't these people have co-pays?

And it gets better. In order to determine the cost, he has to write up orders for all three so the Billing Office can compute the cost. They're supposed to call me before the end of the week and let me know.

Cost isn't the only criterion for my decision, but it's certainly one of them. They do hundreds, maybe even thousands, of these things every year. It's ridiculous that they can't quote a price. There's no magic here. It's damned close to being an assembly line.

No wonder America's health care is the most expensive (though not the most successful) in the world.






7 comments:

Pauline Persing said...

I'm one of those who wouldn't have considered the cost. I will from now on. We don't buy much of anything without considering the cost. How did we get to the point where medical care is different?...especially when it can be costly.

Stacy McKitrick said...

So glad Hubby decided to retire from the military. Our co-pay is $12, regardless of the cost. And any treatment we have on base is free.

I did want to tell you... If you want to go to the retreat, but wasn't sure you could drive there, I'd be happy to drive you there and back.

Anonymous said...

Don't be surprised if they set up appointments for each of those too. Once he sends the order the cycle begins. Geez don't get me started. Lol. Best of luck to you. I just hate you have to put up with this crap!!

Debra said...

My radiation was once a day, Monday thru Friday for five weeks. My out of pocket expenses for radiation alone was about $1400.I have mixed feelings about it still and I finished my treatments a year ago March 17th.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous post is mine Jeanne. I don't know why I can't get this posting thing right. Lol Just dumb I guess. Hate you have to put up with this crap. Best of luck, Maralene

Mia said...

I wouldn't have thought to ask that. I will from now on because the question makes our health care providers more accountable which is a good thing.

Far Side of Fifty said...

I am beyond asking, we just pay our out of pocket max every year and then we are covered 100% It wasn't something we thought of before retiring that we would have enormous health care costs, but I suppose it could be worse.
They should have called the billing dept and found out for you right away...they have codes for each little procedure.
Five days sounds better than weeks to me even if you do have things sticking out of your boob. Which one is the most painful?? I am a big chicken and hate pain, or anyones else for that matter.
Hang in there! I shall be thinking good thoughts for you!
Remember health care people (Doctor's and Nurses) are providing a service and you should be happy and confident that you will receive the best of care...you pay for it!! :(

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