Saturday, September 10, 2011

The Cost of Cancer

In previous posts I have mentioned receiving rogue medical bills. It happens every month or two. For many of my treatments, if I pre-notify the insurance company (call them ahead of time to let them know I’m having a particular treatment) they will cover the treatment. The most I usually have to pay is a small co-pay for an office visit. This month I received a $700+ bill for part of my radiation treatment. I called my insurance company, and I just needed to clarify the billing organization. They were billed from the radiation group, but the pre-note was for the hospital. This has happened on several times. In the area where I live there are groups within groups within medical centers. Once I make them aware of the connection, they re-process the claim.

While I was online pulling the claim numbers and dates, I noticed that I could pull a comprehensive list of all the claims into an excel format. I couldn’t resist. I pulled everything for the last year, and summed the processed insurance claims into a grand total. And then I gasped. I could not believe the number. It was staggering. To date, they have paid over $147,000. And to think that compared to many patients I had what would be considered “cancer lite”. My treatment only included doctor visits, six chemotherapy sessions, 18 days of radiation, a bone marrow test, four PET scans, a MUGA scan, and a whole lot of lab work. My treatment did not include any surgeries or hospital stays.

I am so thankful to have wonderful insurance. I was diagnosed two days before Thanksgiving last year. And I remember being at my in-laws house and one of Robbie’s parents asking if we had cancer coverage. They mentioned that sometimes you have to sign up for that separately. And I knew I hadn’t specifically signed up for any type of cancer coverage. We went online that weekend and were pleased to discover that I was covered – at 100% on most things cancer related as long as I pre-notified.

On a brighter note, I feel great right now. I thought I was back to normal a few weeks ago, but I am feeling even better lately. I’m back to my annoying cheerful self. And slowly but surely, I’m regaining some confidence that was lost. Self-doubt has been replaced with a “can-do” attitude. Watch out world. I’m back.

Cancer treatment? $147,000.
The opportunity to live a great life? Priceless.

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