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Health care problem

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Dear Editor,

In light of all the publicity around health care reform, I thought this would be a good time to share my story as an example of why health insurance is so expensive.

This past May I was seen at a clinic for what I thought was a fingernail infection. The doctor said it was nothing to worry about and no treatment was given. My finger was not improving so during my annual physical in September, I had my doctor take another look.

It was then diagnosed as a wart and the doctor froze it off in a two minute procedure. Remember, I was already in the office. I was charged $262 for the wart treatment and $207 for the entire physical (breast examination, pap smear, 20 minutes or more).

How does this make sense? I wrote to the business office, stating my case and got the standard "your concerns are understandable......but the charges are your responsibility." This is so wrong. For people who have a flat co-pay on their insurance, they likely wouldn't pay any attention to the charge. However, this type of outrageous charge is a key reason insurance costs are so far out of reach for many Americans. Is it really that hard to understand why insurance is so expensive? This is not an insurance issue, this is a provider issue.

I spoke to the doctor about this who told me "he'd try and get this recoded" saying "he wants his patients happy." He also stated that the issue was with how our insurance plan coded the procedure. Really? So an individual's insurance plan now sets the coding and price my clinic can charge? It wouldn't make sense to me that an insurance plan would set an exuberant charge for a two minute procedure. The next day, the business office called me and again refused to change the billing.

In the end, the wart never healed and we treated it with $10 over the counter wart product. Going forward, we will always ask the price of a procedure up front. I thought we could trust that the effort would align with the charge but that clearly is not the case.

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