Thursday, October 14, 2010

The emergency room visit

It has been a number of years since I've been to the doctor; at least 10, maybe 15 years, and I had the opportunity to go to an emergency room recently as a patient.  It was an eye-opening experience for me, literally. 

I'd been working on the farm, and I forget exactly what I was doing, but I remember getting something into my eye.  It felt pretty small, but it was causing me to blink, and I didn't think much of it, and I went about my business.  it bothered me all day, and I spent some time in a mirror trying to see what it was that was causing me grief, but didn't find it.  the next morning it was still bothering me, and I purchased some eye drops and tried to irrigate it out of the eye, with no luck.  On day 3, the eye was noticeably red and the pain had increased, and I was starting to get light-sensitive.  Into the emergency room I went. 

My blood pressure seemed to be very interesting to them.  Interesting enough that they measured it 5 times during my 5 hour visit.  the receptionist, the triage nurse, the orderly, and then the RN each took a turn, and then the doctor did.  It was remarkably consistent at 80/120, and my pulse, which they measured at the same time, was a resting 55.  None of that had anything to do with my eye, but whatever.  

The actual treatment was for them to put an eye drop into my eye that made it insensitive, and then remove a very small black speck from it with a cue tip swab.  $9 eye drop prescription and tetanus shot later they released me. 

My insurance co-pay was $235, which I paid at time of treatment.  They billed my insurance company...  $2100. 

Twenty one hundred dollars. 




Throwback at Trapper Creek said...

No Urgent Care clinics in your area? They are much more affordable with or without insurance.

Anonymous said...

Not bad for a ER co-pay. Do you have individual insurance, or through someone else? We have two kids (human) and insurance is in part what's keeping me tied to an employer. It's been worth it. Our eldest spent 5 days at Children's hospital (story on my photography blog)and without insurance and the generosity of Childrens' I don't know what we would have done.

Anonymous said...

Hope that BP was 120/80, that is perfect actually. And 55 is fine for someone as active as you are. Be glad that wasn't a more expensive visit. Prices have been going up everywhere recently. Our co-pay just went from 50 to 200 in July.
Hope your eye is feeling much better.

Anonymous said...

What a rip off the whole medical scam is. The eye problem and the tetanus vaccine where the only things that you needed. That maybe was worth $100 at the most. At the rates they are charging can you ask them to barter? Chickens for care? Say your chickens are worth, oh about $500/bird. Tell the hospital they lay golden eggs.

Lee said...

Having been to the ER with someone twice in the last 5 years, I believe this is first and foremost the problem with our medical system. We're never going to have affordable health insurance unless something is done to reign in the ballooning cost (and diminishing quality). In Japan, the same procedure would probably have cost about $100 total.

Anonymous said...

Oof, well, I guess that makes the vet seem not so pricey! :-D Makes me lament the days of ol' Doc Baker, who could treat man OR animals; all for the trade of some eggs! :-D

Mike said...

"My blood pressure seemed to be very interesting to them. Interesting enough that they measured it 5 times during my 5 hour visit. the receptionist, the triage nurse, the orderly, and then the RN each took a turn, and then the doctor did."

As someone who works in a local ER I must say you received the standard of care. It is policy to check the vitals of all patients in the ER once per hour of their visit. As the term 'emergency' applies, these pt's are often very sick. Thus it is a good routine to check the vitals of all pt's once per hour even if they are there for an ankle injury or a foreign body in the eye. The should all be assessed at regular intervals.

As for the cost, I know from my work experience, that since the recession, the rate of return on services given vs. what is actually paid back to the hospital has dropped drastically. People will come in and have thousands of dollars worth of tests done and then refuse to pay the bill. The cost is then spread to the rest of the pt population.

People will also use the ER as they would their regular doctor(often times with our tax dollars paying for the visit). Some pt's even come in to see us weekly.

Sorry for the rant. I just want people to know that it is not the hospital's fault healthcare is so expensive, it's because of all of the people who abuse the system and expect others to pay the price.

Anonymous said...

Start wearing safety glasses when doing things like torching, splitting wood or clearing brush.

Dave said...

Why did you go to the ER ?
Any one of the walk in clinics around you could have handled your treatment and they would have been cheaper than the ER.
Half the reason ER waits are so long is because of all the non emergency patients, especially those with no insurance (not you)