Write your health care story
Monday, September 27th, 2010
What's your best anecdote about the real price of health care?
A new nonprofit group called Cost of Care is hosting an essay contest to spread the word that everyday choices multiply to make health care more expensive for all of us.
Cost of Care Executive Director Dr. Neel Shah says technology and better price information can prompt doctors and patients to make different, perhaps more frugal, decisions.
Right now, lots of us barely glance at our medical bills, but not Princeton, N.J., resident John Phelan. Phelan is a health technology expert and says he always checks his paperwork at the doctor's office. And when he finds a mistake, he asks about it.
Phelan: I said listen this is kind of weird, this is a little awkward, but I happen to have come here for poison ivy and now I'm looking at a charge that's all about eczema. She blanched a little bit and said: 'Mr. Phelan, I'm sorry but oftentimes the doctors are not reimbursed to the level that they like to be, so in this case the reimbursement for poison ivy is not as much as for eczema.'
Phelan is not part of the contest group, but says consumers should be more accountable for what's happening in their health care. He says the contest could get the rest of us asking questions too.
What does it matter – and what does it cost – if you stay an extra day in the hospital? If you insist on an MRI when your doctor says you probably don't need one?
Phelan: I think, in general, that consumers have been lulled to sleep.
Experts say inexpensive co-payments and and health bills mostly paid by your employer shield people from the true cost of health care until they face a major medical problem.