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Weekly Expenses October 17, 2009

Posted by Admin in Blog Math, Diary, Money, Women.
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This has been low cost week, all things considered. On Monday, I had a lymphedema and back massage. The co-pay was $45.00 because it was 90 minutes instead of 60 minutes. Well worth it!

Still waiting for the bill from the emergency room last week-that will be interesting.

Weekly total: $45


Costs of Healthy Living Hit Women Harder October 11, 2009

Posted by Admin in Health Insurance, Women.
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Last May, another brick in the wall of reasons for health care reform was fired in the oven. The clay for this brick came from the Commonwealth Fund, a research fund working on creating a new health system.

Women at Risk: Why Women are Forgoing Needed Health Care by 3 Commonwealth Fund researchers was released in May of 2009. Based on 2007 data, the numbers may be even worse now. In an earlier post  I also alluded to a different study showing that women spend more money on their health over their lifetimes than men. (will repost that when I find it!)

The Commonwealth study high points are:

  • 52 percent of women had any one of four problems getting needed health care because of cost compared to 39 percent of men: did not fill a prescription; did not see a specialist when needed; skipped a recommended medical test, treatment, or follow-up; or had a medical problem but did not visit a doctor or clinic.
  • 45 percent of women accrued medical debt or reported problems with medical bills in 2007, compared to 36 percent of men.
  • Women were also more likely to skip tests and screenings: almost half of women (45%) delayed or did not receive a cancer screening or dental care because of costs, compared to 36 percent of men.

If I had only skipped some of those visits and tests…No, that is not my situation yet.

Do you know how cool it is for a cancer survivor to be given a ten year pass-as I feel that I got with the recent “clean” colonoscopy results? Couldn’t have skipped that test, no sirreebob.

This is the sentence in the news release that captures it all for me:

“Women are more affected by high health care costs because they have lower average incomes but higher out-of-pocket health costs than men, and use the health care system more frequently.”

Testimony before Congress on this subject may come from celebrities highlighting the increase in cost for all patients.

[picapp src=”0/0/5/0/Elizabeth_Edwards_Testifies_f490.jpg?adImageId=6138976&imageId=5624864″ width=”234″ height=”150″ /]

Killing the Pain… October 7, 2009

Posted by Admin in Diary, Health Insurance, Money.
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Yesterday’s drug. Vicoden. That was free. And it didn’t work. So I could sell them on the corner and finance next week’s lunch. Just kidding. Today’s new painkiller was $40.48 with a co-pay of $10.00. I couldn’t go to get it-so my fab driver went again. Maybe we will be at the local clinic every day this week! Not a habit I’m looking to solidify.

I have a killer headache and no one seems to care about that. It’s normal to think aneurysm, right? But I don’t want to have a CT/MRI  scan unnecessarily. Isn’t that what got us into this mess? I have tried 4 different painkillers this week so far. Jury is still out but all of the little bugs should be dead by now.

Daily total: $10.00 Co-Pay, Chicken Soup 3 for $5.00, Gas for the car $5.00= $20.00

September Blog Math October 1, 2009

Posted by Admin in Blog Math, Diary, Money.
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Yesterday was the end of the month.   This blog is not yet one month old, so the numbers for September will not include the days prior to the First Post.

Expenses this week: Massage (for lymphedema) co-pay $30.00

Expenses for the life of the blog(less than 30 days): $680.68

Cost of worry, uncertainty, and bill-juggling (to paraphrase a national commercial) : Priceless!

Percentage of monthly income: Not  a single digit number!

Prediction for next month: Flat (did you know flat is the new up?)

Is The Public Option Really Dead? September 29, 2009

Posted by Admin in Health Insurance.
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It is up to you. Today, two amendments with the public option failed to make it out of the Senate Finance Committee. You remember the public option, right? As Senator Rockefeller described it, this optional plan would avoid placing profits before the American people. remember, this is a voluntary choice, open to the public. What about the word optional don’t people understand?

Please call your Senators tomorrow-it is not too late.

The public option would provide a public plan as competition for the current plans offered by the insurance companies. It would have the same (or better) benefits at a more affordable price-due in part to lower administrative costs.Why are they afraid of competition? Because this might drive our premium costs down. Right now, if the bill passes with co-ops only, prices will not go down due to the smaller number of people in each plan. With a national plan as a public option, there would be millions of people in the plan, which would be fabulous-lots of healthy people included and the risk from the heavy users will be spread out over a bigger population. This is more complicated that this summary, but let’s face it, as Senator Stabenow just said, “If the current system was actually working, we wouldn’t need change…”

In addition, the insurance companies will currently receive a half trillion dollar subsidy over ten years with Sen. Baucus’ bill, plus millions of new customers. What did they sacrifice to get this? $20 billion, one time. Those are great gambling odds. 25 to 1. I guess all that lobbying money paid off.

To see if your Senator is on the Finance Committee

visit this site or for another perspective,

visit Rock the Vote and watch their video, posted today after the amendments failed to pass.

If Travel Worked Like Health Care… September 27, 2009

Posted by Admin in Health Insurance, Humor.
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A quick, funny article simulating the travel industry run like our health care system. I just found this on another blog.  Perhaps your legislators should know about this. Could be a great argument for single payer-or at least more centralization.  Isn’t there an industry standards committee, as there is in mobile phones?

Reminds me of the old article called If Microsoft Made Cars...this link has the one I remember.

Just Relax-This Won’t Hurt a Bit September 19, 2009

Posted by Admin in Women.
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This summer I bagged three more departments at my local medical provider, dermatology, orthopedics and gastroenterology. Understand that this was not what I wanted to “do on my summer vacation”.  Plus they were not part of a medical treasure hunt-they were just things that it was time to have looked into (no pun intended). To date, the “life list” includes hematology/oncology, internal medicine, ob-gyn, urology, dermatology, physical therapy, radiology, the MRI department, gynecological oncology, and general surgery. Other trips in the last 6 months included an oral surgeon (also a first this year) and a repeat visit to the endodontist, in addition to the dentist (2 visits).

It’s hard to compare myself to others in my family, because I had cancer very early-so I’ve been a survivor for half my life. This means that I am accustomed to a high level of annual interaction with the health care delivery system. How does this compare with men in my family or younger people I wondered? I found a study called “The Lifetime Distribution of Health Care Costs”, which had two quick clues for me.

One, I am female and two, I am in middle age. (Now, If 60 is the new 30, then I am absolutely not middle aged, and I am younger than Rickey Henderson.)

But I digress. In this 2004 study, the authors found that the  “per capita lifetime expenditure is $316,600, a third higher for females ($361,200) than males ($268,700). Two-fifths of this difference owes to women’s longer life expectancy. Nearly one-third of lifetime expenditures is incurred during middle age, and nearly half during the senior years. For survivors to age 85, more than one-third of their lifetime expenditures will accrue in their remaining years.”  (The Lifetime Distribution…..Alemayehu and Warner, 2004)

So ironically, because cancer did not kill me the first or second time, I will live longer, spend 1/3 more on health care than a similarly aged male and in my middle age I will spend 1/3 of my lifetime health care cost. Plus, with women’s generally lower average lifetime earnings, the health care I pay for  will be a larger percentage of my overall budget.

I am not more relaxed, nor do I feel better, but I am more informed. That’s the current tradeoff.

It’s Payday! TGIF September 18, 2009

Posted by Admin in Diary, Money.
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Half of my monthly premium comes out of each paycheck. My medical, dental and vision coverage (a rare thing, I know) is $43.34 per pay period. The medical portion is for one person. Family members are covered elsewhere.

Total for the week:$ 103.34

Total for Month $190.34

2009 Premiums Paid YTD: 780.18

PS Would I have been better off with a Medical Savings Account? I still prefer Universal Coverage, Guaranteed Acceptance as Gov. Howard Dean called it.

Expenses This Week September 14, 2009

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Genetic Counseling appointment with family member. I was invited along due to family history. After consultation, decided to allow blood draw for possible BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene testing. This is covered by insurance, but we don’t know my coverage amount (100%, 90/10, 80/20 etc.). The cost of the first test [to locate any gene “errors”] is $3200 and only one lab does this test in the country. One health insurance company used to say it was “out of network”, in order to cover less of the procedure, but we were assured that this has changed. The blood has been sent and the lab will contact my insurance company in order to determine the amount paid for the “allowed amount”. If over $375 out-of-pocket, they will call me to see if I want to go forward. Cost of appointment: $20 for the co-pay (office visit) and $4.00 of round trip bus fare for two people.

Plus, $35.00 for the colonoscopy prescription called Movi-Prep. Let’s just say that name is accurate.

Total $59.00


Scheduled colonoscopy. Three CPT codes and one ICD9 code to retrieve from the clinic, before I can get estimates from them and then the insurance company. Possible costs: More than $9,000. Will I have to pay 20% of up to $9000? Scary, especially as I haven”t met my annual out-of-pocket cap of $2000 yet.

Turned out that there wasn’t much to look at and I don’t have to go back for ten years! So only one code needed (and I don’t know which was the expensive code) and it is still an undetermined amount to pay. But if I hadn’t had insurance, they would have asked for a $7000 deposit!

Office visit co-pay $20.00. Discounted patient parking for over 3 hours $8.00


Total for week: $87

First Post September 13, 2009

Posted by Admin in Diary, Health Insurance, Money.
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The inspiration for this blog came from three sources: the President’s speech on the health reform fight this week; my health status as a cancer survivor and my wish to see health coverage really be available and affordable for everyone.  Like the President, I see health coverage as an essential for the country-even a public good. Unlike some of my relatives (who apparently have never been to an emergency room with a screaming child or had non-elective surgery, or lost their life insurance) I believe that healthy citizens are more productive citizens. By productive I mean in the areas of civics, health, wealth and the pursuit of happiness. That will benefit everyone.

I will also keep a diary of my actual health care expenses, in addition to medical premiums (my coverage is currently furnished by my employer).

So Many Choices

So Many Choices

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