The health money pit

A while back, my doctor scheduled a consultation for a procedure. The visit set me back a reasonable $40 co-pay.

Then I received the real bill: $600.

Talk about medical sticker shock. I already pay a lot for a policy with high premiums that will supposedly save me money in the long term, or in the case of severe illness or injury.

After a few frustrating rounds with the insurance company, however, I learned exhaustively about the ins and outs of my policy, which requires me to pay out-of-pocket for almost anything but the most basic health exam until I've reached a sky-high deductible.

After much argument, I managed to get the final bill knocked down several hundred dollars, but still.

Of course, I'm not alone in this health care money pit.

According to a new study from the Kaiser Family Foundation, health insurance deductibles have risen more than six times faster than workers' earnings since 2010.

As politicians and pundits debate the laws and ethics of the Affordable Care Act and $750 pills, it's time to make room in the conversation for realistic insurance policies.

Health care providers like to tout the cost-saving importance of routine and preventative care—and rightfully so—but now it's time to pass along even a fraction of those savings to the rest of us.

Staying healthy shouldn't be so damn expensive. A $600 consultation? It's enough to swear me off doctors, which I'm guessing might be counter-productive, at least when it comes to my personal health, if not my bank account.