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Saturday, May 19, 2012

Sticker Shock

I am used to getting regular bills from DFCI, Brigham and Women's Hospital (BWH), or Blue Cross Blue Shield for various lab tests, procedures, doctor's bills, etc.  Usually, the amounts are fairly small, mostly under $100.  Since the amounts billed to me usually only represent 1 or 2 percent of the total amount involved, I gladly pay them, grateful that the insurance picks up the great bulk of the costs.

Usually, the bills come by snail mail, but today I got an online bill from BWH in the amount of $500.  This seemed a bit steep, so I went online to check out the detailed invoice.  That's when I found out how much a stem cell transplant really costs.  The total charges for my 16 days in the hospital for my ASCT came to $178,662.15!  For those of you who are very astute with math, you have probably already figured that that this comes to over $11,000 per day, or about $465 per hour.  I would suggest that if you don't really need one of these, don't get it!  Geez, even a good lawyer (not that there are many of those) doesn't cost that much.  (Sorry, Terry.)

Nevertheless, my portion of these charges still only amounts to under 0.3% of that total.  Thank goodness!  Again, I will pay it without question, relieved that my portion wasn't much higher.

This causes one to stop and think.  What happens to people who are either under-insured or have no health insurance at all?   Other than throwing themselves onto the largesse of the State, what options do they have?  My advice to them...don't ever get really sick.  I am grateful for my Blue Cross Blue Shield Medicare Advantage Plan.  They have not questioned or denied any of the expensive treatments I have received for this disease from the gitgo.  I have read stories from other MM patients who have had to fight with their insurance companies to cover the costs of their treatments.  Thank you, BCBS!

Not to get into politics, but I think the Massachusetts health care plan (now dubbed RomneyCare) has been a good thing, in that it requires people to have some kind of health care coverage.  I also think that is a good feature of ObamaCare.  For those who feel this requirement is unconstitutional and cherish individual freedom, as in the New Hampshire motto, "Live Free or Die", I would suggest that the freedom not to require health insurance is equivalent to "Live Free and die".  OK, I've just stepped off the soap box.  Enough of that.

As an informational note, I recently compiled a chronology of my decision-making process leading up to my stem cell transplant.  I did this at the request of Pat Killingsworth, who thought it might make an interesting (or not) case study for others who may be facing this same decision.  If you are interested in this, just email me at and I will be glad to send you the Word document (about 5 pages).


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