Before stressing out and contemplating bankruptcy, cancer patients should confront their providers about costs of treatment. In the diagnosis of my multiple myeloma, I have had several bone biopsies. The one done in an hospital ER setting with a general anesthetic was billed at around $30,000 including tissue tests and took up half a day with transportation. Medicare paid a lot less for this so it is always smart to at least ask for a Medicare rate. The third one I had was before a stem cell transplant and was a 15 minute breeze done with a local anesthetic in a side room by 2 nurses. With the expensive tissue tests, it was billed at about $6500 and Medicare paid about $3500 for everything. Shocking, huh. I spoke with a woman who was referred to a famous out-of-network Houston clinic who performed the local anesthetic procedure on her and still charged her $30,000. She was contemplating divorse and bankruptcy to protect her family from this outrageous charge. As a guide from my monitoring of my medical costs, Medicare with Medigap G pays about 1/3 to 1/4 the billed amount and generally pays between half and one quarter of what private insurance pays for health care.
In my view as a Director and Treasurer of the non-profit, non-partisan Health Care for Colorado Foundation, cancer patients should begin to aggressively push for a single insurer health care system for the under-65 that piggybacks on Medicares procedures, low overhead and low, low provder rates. Should result in very reasonable premiums for best in US insurance coverage. Beware of misconceived plans line HR676 which would be outrageously expensive and trash for profit medical providers at great cost to US. Even Sanders' Senate bill SB1804 needs to be modified substantially to make it fairly and sustainably financed with a separate trust fund and separate bi-partisan board of trustees to protect it from political manipulation. It also must be separately financed from old Medicare because of old Medicares legacy funding. By the way, a national single insurer should cover most medical costs excluding long term care so as to drastically cut the cost of auto medical liability insurance as well as workman's comp and even medical malpractice insurance for doctors. Extrapolating figures from a Journal of American Medical Association article, we figure that nation single insurer would cut around $900 billion per year from US medical administrative costs--currently totalling around $3.5 trillion/yr in 2017. Imagine how affordable that would make health care insurance for everyone.
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