Friday, October 9, 2009

Outrage of the Week No. 3

"Don't worry about it."

I'll tell you - whenever you hear these words, that is exactly the time to start worrying about it.

When I was in the hospital in August, I was to be transferred on Sunday morning from Memorial Medical Center in Woodstock to Northern Illinois Medical Center in McHenry. When I asked what time the ambulance would take me there, I was informed that the transfer would be by helicopter.

I immediately asked how much that would cost and one of the nurses, who seemed to be in charge of what was happening, said, "Don't worry about it. Medicare pays for it."

I think I responded with something like, "Oh, good. What color helicopter are they sending?"

I had no sense of an impending emergency. The transfer was because Memorial doesn't do any heart work, and NIMC does. So I had to go there - 8 miles away.

When I got the first bill from the helicopter company, it was for $6,800!

The base fee is $6,000; I guess that's for answering the phone and, maybe, for starting the engines. The mileage charge was $75.00/mile x 8.0 miles, $600.00.

The first bill indicated a Medicare "adjustment" of $3,518.34; I guess that's the over-billing that Medicare just automatically writes off.

Last week I received the second bill, after they got $2,625.33 from Medicare. So now they think that I am going to pay $656.33 for the 10-minute ride to NIMC.

The hospital presented me with no choice. They didn't ask if I wanted to go by ambulance or by taxi or call a friend for a ride over to NIMC. But the hospital staff did say, "Don't worry about it. Medicare pays for it."

I think that what Memorial is going to find out is, what Medicare didn't pay, they will.

There was no medical emergency to that Sunday's transfer. The reason was that Memorial doesn't do heart work. Heart work is done at NIMC.

How many people in McHenry County know that???


whatmeworry? said...

The editorial policy. THATS what seperates you from the "real" media.

Support the police said...

They transferrred you by air instead of ground because your MD probably ordered it. An MD will typically order an air transfer when he or she does not feel that you are stable enough to go by ground. ALOT can happen in those 8 miles. Especially with a cardiac Pt. Not only will the helicopter get you there much quicker, they have better drugs, more advanced equipment and better trained personnel. They have a nurse and a medic, which are very highly qualified and experienced to even be working on the helicoper. As opposed to an ambulance wich at minum has a paramedic and an EMT-B. I wouln't let some of the private services around here transport me in their ambulance for even a hang nail. There's a reason those paramedics work there (Of course there's always the exception to the rule). You should be glad they transferred you by air. Oh, and Pt's don't get a choice in their method of transport, unless you sign out AMA of course.

Braff Zackton said...

What, they kept you alive after having a heart attack and now you have to pay 656 dollars? That's crazy. Whoever made that decision to make you pay 656 of a 6800 dollar bill should be air lifted to the closest psychiatric facility where people can complain to employees about people talking on their cell phones in the waiting room instead of just asking the person politely to speak softer. You remind me a bit of Jesse Jackson. He too hears about problems and has bad things happen to him and then laments them in a way for everybody to see. Maybe you and he should seek employment. I've found that having a job can help with money and having a money can help with heart attack payments. Oh and I do understand that MCC Sheriff is a paying position and you are seeking it. I'm just equating that to your chances of being Sheriff of Middle Earth or Narnia or The Death Star. Commence with your witty retort.

DownByTheRiver said...

I'm concerned about the overall costs like you. I think that "out here", we are all too reliant on the helicopters, and that does bother me. Closer in to O'Hare and the inner-ring suburbs, especially at a mere 8 miles, you'd be sent by ambulance, no question about it.

In future, Obamacare would have you be treated by the receptionist in Woodstock, or else suggest you walk to NIMSie.


Whitmore2 said...

I would be interested to hear if you can convince Memorial that *they* will be paying the remainder of the bill.

Gus said...

So, Braff, I suppose you are the kind of stand-up guy who just pays whatever bill gets mailed to you, without questioning it.

Flight for Life is for emergencies, in my opinion. Driving me eight miles was not an emergency.

Actually, to me it looks like somebody (hospital or doctor) just ordered it because Medicare would pay for it and less because it was needed.

Braff Zackton said...

I'm the kind of stand-up guy that feels grateful to pay a hospital bill after a heart attack. Also if you could please give us your qualifications to determine if something is a medical emergency. So maybe the nurse wasn't qualified to answer questions about Medicare, maybe she should consider running for sheriff.