Insist on knowing the cost

Health-care rates should be public and posted

Ms. Vernau is a self-employed freelance graphic designer. She lives in Chico.

Recently I’d been feeling ill and went to the doctor’s office. The doctor told me I needed blood work and a test. I asked him what the costs of the different test options were and to please be aware that I was self-insured and did not have an employer-based plan, but rather crisis insurance and a huge deductible. The physician stated flatly that he did not know the costs of the tests, but did know that some costs were higher than others.

I went out to the front desk to get scheduled for the test. I again asked about the costs of the tests, explaining that I was self-employed and had a huge deductible. I was sent to the local hospital rather than a testing facility because it’s faster to get scheduled in.

Once I got home I called the hospital twice to find out the contracted rate for this test. Neither time was I able to reach anybody, so I left a voicemail message, but it was not returned. A few days later I proceeded to the hospital, registered and asked again about the cost. I was given a number to call. This time I got a live person, and she proceeded to tell me the cost of the test. It was extremely high, to say the least, and after calling another testing facility I found out the hospital’s test was five to six times more expensive than the testing facility’s. I walked out and rescheduled with the testing facility.

I contacted the doc’s office and brought up the fact that no one there seemed conscious of the price of these tests. I said I felt this was one of the main reasons our health-care system was in trouble. Their reaction was to shrug their shoulders and say that “most people have insurance to cover these costs.”

Well, I am here to state that we cannot afford to be apathetic about health-care costs anymore! If no one cares about the costs, and if they’re just shoved off onto the next person, then costs for health care become unchecked. The line between the uninsured and the insured is very fine—any one of us can easily find ourselves without coverage.

It’s time we end this apathy—and it starts from the bottom up. Health-care costs should be public and posted. We all need to speak out to our government and to our health-care providers and not be afraid to ruffle feathers!