Wednesday, December 06, 2006

La donna n'e mobile; or Why I Love Overspending on Health Insurance

by Ken Houghton

There has been a lack of posts at this blog this week. The short version is that Drek is on the DL, Tom is working to keep the USPS safe for democracy, and I've been doing dual-parent duties for the past five days, as Shira has been flat on her back with an undiagnosed problem.

The latter gave us, Monday, an interesting examination of the health care system. Having treated health plan selection as an option problem, I elected (against the data presented by our plan's Cost Estimator) to select the most expensive plan my company offers. The reasoning was that anything Really Bad makes it worth while, and two forty-somethings with two pre-grade schoolers present a reasonable bet of Something Really Bad.

So when they only scheduled an X-Ray (likely to show nothing), I pushed for an MRI. Especially after the place that needed four days to schedule the X-Ray said they could do an MRI immediately after the X-Ray.

Our doctor's office said, "You need a preauthorization number."
Me: "No we don't. I haven't needed one before."

They wrote the scrip. Three hours later, the Imaging Center calls. "You need a preauthorization number."

A roundelay with our Insurance Carrier later, I re-call the doctor's office.

Me: "They're saying we need a preauthorization number."
Doctor's Office: "That's what I told you. And I'll warn you that it takes several days; they generally want to see the X-Ray results first."
Me: "So she'll be spending another four or five days before they can even do anything that might be useful?"
Doctor's Office: "That's generally the way it is."

By now, it's around 2:00pm Monday, with the exams scheduled for Tuesday.

3:00. Phone rings.
Doctor's Office: "I got the preauthorization number."

Apparently, the process has been so smooth for the past year that I hadn't even noticed that we need preauthorization, since it comes same day.

Apparently, the rule of health care in the United States is that the more you spend up front, the better you are treated. Is anyone surprised? And can anyone seriously describe such a system as optimal??
It's less that I'm on the DL and more that I'm a schmuck. I can take a hint, though...
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