Rant: Cancer Lesson #65 — No More Port in a Storm
A few weeks ago, I got an EOB (Explanation of Benefits) for a “medical procedure” (one of my favorite euphemisms of all time) from our insurance company. This form explained how much they would and would not pay, how much the hospital would write off, and how much we owed. Since I hadn’t had any appointments in November, I thought the hospital had mistakenly billed our insurance for someone else.
My daughter reminded me that I’d gone in for a port flush — a process so minor that I’d forgotten about it. A nurse stuck me in the arm — thereby accessing my port, ran saline through the device to keep it clean, and gave me a shot of Heparin to help prevent clots. Total time elapsed: About five minutes.
Seriously, it probably took to take off my jacket than it did for the “procedure.”
Imagine my shock when I read the following figures on the EOB.
Sterile Supply — $17.00
Procedure — $588.00
Insurance Company Payment — $309.76
Insurance Company Adjustment — $217.80
Amount You (I) May Be Billed — $77.44
I was sure it was a coding error.
When the actual invoice arrived, I immediately called the “Questions about your bill?” number. After three days of phone tag — don’t get me started on that topic! — I finally got to speak to a person, who told me the invoice appeared to be coded correctly.
How could this be? When I visit my doctor and have a port flush and have blood drawn, the bill is less than $600, more like $200.
She couldn’t answer that.
I understand medical treatment is expensive. No one survives any kind of major or chronic illness without learning that. But $600(!) for a five-minute treatment is beyond expensive.
I asked if there was any way I could protest the exorbitant fee and learned I could dispute the bill.
Today I heard back. No surprise, they say the bill is correct. These costs, it seems, are set by Medicare and not the hospital.
Keeping my port means having it flushed every two months. How can I reconcile having our insurance waste $1,858.56 a year on this? And the $464.64 that I would be paying could be better spent (perhaps on my daughter’s college texts?).
I’m going to have to have the device taken out, which really ticks me off.
Explanation of how a port works can be found at: http://tinyurl.com/y8snrty Image above from same site.
If you haven’t read Cancer Lessons #6 and #20, you may be wondering, “Why does she want to keep the damn thing anyway?”
Here are the links to those lessons: https://kymlucas.me/2011/03/31/cancer-lesson-6/ https://kymlucas.me/2011/05/23/cancer-lesson-20-any-port-in-a-storm/
Read them now.
After my MRI, I was bruised from several inches above both elbows to several inches below. I wish I’d taken a picture.
I’m whining. For that I apologize. But I have blood drawn every time I see my doctor. This means I can look forward to a lot of poking and prodding around in my arms as the nurses try to find a vein.
Or, as they like to call it, I’ll experience a lot of “pinching.”
Still, chemo nurses are the best in the business when it comes to finding a vein. Maybe I’m making a tempest in a teapot.
I hope so.
Because there will be no more port in a storm.