Archive for April, 2010:


Written on April 28th, 2010 by Jamesone shout

Being self-employed I watch my healthcare costs very closely.  We have a high deductible plan for the family (no maternity coverage if you have read the earlier posts) to save money on the monthly premiums.  What that means is that outside of normal office visits for the kids, I have to eat the cost of everything until I reach the per person deductible of $3000.  This also means that because the wife likes to take the kids to a “pediatric dentist” instead of the few that are offered in our plan that we pay full cost.  Don’t even get me started on what those fillings cost!

Needless to say, I don’t frequent the doctors office unless I am feeling like death.  I also encourage this for the family although they are a bit quicker to go for their ailments.

This all leads to today’s post regarding a recent trip to the emergency room.  Since we are still debating healthcare in this country I figured a real-life example would be appropriate.  Before I get any nasty emails this is not a political discussion and is not a slap against doctors or hospitals.  I work with a number of physicians and completely agree that they should be compensated well because of their skills and knowledge.  I also understand that hospitals can charge their fees because they provide the equipment, facilities and services.  I accept this and like every other capitalist I believe that you can charge whatever the market will support.

So, a couple of weeks back my son had been suffering from a multi-day stomach virus that would not seem to go away.  I had been a bit concerned because my experience with viruses is that they last about 24 hours and then you get better.  After having this thing for 4 days he woke me up at 12:30am on a Sunday night complaining of severe stomach cramps.  He was in pain and my inital thought was that this may not be a virus but something more serious like appendicitis.  So I put him in the truck and rushed over to the local hospital emergency room.  We were immediately put in a room and promptly attended to by an ER Nurse and then checked out by an ER Doc.  (both great folks)  The doc did some general tests such as blood work and physical movement which ruled out the appendicitis, but thought that a CT Scan would be warranted to make sure (and I agreed).  Finally at 4:30 am we left the hospital and went home. 

The following bill arrived in my mailbox a week later:

  • med-sur supplies      $71
  • Lab                                  $275
  • Urology                         $88
  • CT Scan                           $5048
  • ER room                         $1706
  • drugs                                $466

so the grand total for 4 hours at the hospital was $7654 (i paid a $150 deductible upon entering).  Once again I am not against paying folks what they are worth, but even if I wasn’t a miser this seemed a bit steep.  I agree that the doc, nurse and facility are worth their charge.  My gut tells me the CT scan and drug charge is off base, but since I don’t have any other access to a CT scanner I guess it doesn’t matter what I think!

So the thing with insurance is that they have negotiated rates, so even though I have a high deductible my insurance company followed up with an itemized list that reduced the charges based on “contractural adjustments” and the total bill came out to be $1109.

After this ordeal I am left to ponder the following things:

  • if I did not have coverage and was a cash paying customer, would I have gotten the reduced rates or been stuck with the inflated rates?
  • if the state / fed government let hospitals expand and buy equipment as they wanted, would it not bring the prices down due to competition?  (did you know that the hospital has to get approval from the state to have a CT machine (or to add any equipment/service)?  did you know that the hospital has to get approval to add even one additional bed?  (so much for free market competition)
  • exactly what would be a fair cost for the treatment we recieved?  I am guessing somewhere between the inflated rate of $7654 and the insurance rate of $1109.
Filed under General, Personal Finance Tags:

even miser’s can have flaws

Written on April 18th, 2010 by Jamesno shouts

The wife is starting to make fun of my newfound hobby.  So I figured I would air it out here on the blog.  It’s not really a hobby but more of an addiction of sorts.  It’s…… …..

I will admit I have become a craigslist addict.  It all started when I decided to get rid of a few household items that were piling up in the garage: old set of golf cart tires, small bookcase and then we sold our treadmill.  After I sold a few items on Craigslist I started searching for stuff that I could use in my basement finishing project.  So I bought a set of custom shelves from a cabinet maker.  I got them for well below what the custom order would have cost and so that began my evening addiction of searching

My next project has been the possible move of my office.  In planning this I started searching for used office furniture.  Well this led to a trip to Nashville to pick up a great deal on a couple of really nice office desks.  It then led me across town to purchase some filing cabinets (once again a great deal).

My latest craigslist purchase was 4 five gallon containers of stone/concrete sealer.  I was in need of some sealer for brick patio that is looking a bit worn down along with a slate tile that I recently put down in the basement.  If you have ever purchased sealer you know this stuff can run as high as $50 for a gallon, so when I found 20 gallons for $200 I knew I hit paydirt.  Don’t ask me what I will use 20 gallons of sealer on.  Hopefully, the stuff stays good for quite awhile!

Craigslist is definitely a great tool for those looking for a deal.  It’s only drawback is that it can also be addicting as well.

Filed under Credit & Spending, Personal Finance Tags: