Notebook > Money

Bill of the month

Money

Issue: "Surviving Syria," June 1, 2013

I am 89 and had chest pains in the night, so called my primary physician in the morning expecting to go in for a check-up. He immediately said, “Get to the ER and have an EKG,” so my daughter took me in about 10:30 on Friday morning.

They did the EKG and finding no problem, the ER doctor for that day came to see me and said he wanted me to stay overnight and have more tests. After X-rays and other tests, I was moved to a room and was periodically checked for vital signs. I was told I was to have a stress test on Saturday and so waited without food or drink until afternoon when a doctor I had never seen came and spent a few minutes telling me that the test could be dangerous and did I understand that?

The test consisted of putting some medicine (the nuclear medicine?) into my IV, which caused me to pant heavily for a few minutes. Later that afternoon another doctor called me to say that he was releasing me and that the tests didn’t show perfection, but nothing really bad either. I never saw him to ask him anything more, but he left written instructions for me to see my primary physician and take aspirin and vitamin C.

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newman_2.jpgMy daughter picked me up around seven on Saturday evening. On Monday morning I called my doctor and asked him if I could get copies of the results of all the tests. He informed me I would have to go to the hospital for those. Several days later he had his nurse call me to see if I wanted to come in. I could think of no reason to do that. 

When I got the bill, I was appalled at the charges and even though my share was negligible I felt outraged at the lack of integrity, truth, or honesty it conveyed. Two of my daughters have done some medical billing and explained to me that they don’t expect the insurance company to pay the whole amount, but I cannot understand why they have to be so blatantly untruthful. There must be something we can do to bring straightforwardness back into our world! 

—Kathleen M. Newman

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