Brad Wright's insurance policy had a $3,000 deductable, which had kept him out of the doctor's office.' But, when the pain in his sinuses was unbearable, he made an appointment.' "The physician ordered some lab work and a sinus CT scan to rule out infection, and said that I could have everything done downstairs," said Brad.' But, Brad learned that the scan would cost roughly $900 and, considering his high deductible, he opted for lab work only.' "A month later, the bad news came in the mail. The lab was out-of-network, and I owed $478'Later, when a dermatologist put me on medication requiring monthly blood tests, I took out the yellow pages, looked up laboratories, and dialed the phone."
Monte Jaffe had a similar experience after getting an estimate for a colonoscopy. The procedure itself was estimated to cost between $2,000 and $4,500. The physician screening was $770 or more. There was also a fee for the anesthesiologist, but the woman Monte spoke with didn't know how much that would be. Monte wondered if there were other charges, but stopped asking. Facing potentially over $5,000, she decided to forgo the colonoscopy. Likening the experience to hiring a contractor for home improvements, Monte said, "I received three estimates from three different general contractors which included all of the costs including the electrician, masonry, disposal, painting, etc. Sometimes there are unexpected costs with construction, and sometimes there are unexpected costs with colonoscopies. However, the inability of our medical system to even identify all of the costs, or to even appreciate that this is an important element to making the decision, was emblematic to me of a much deeper problem.
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