- Posted February 24, 2013 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Bitter pill: The cost of health care in the U.S.
In July of 2012 while making repairs on a deck, my circular saw kicked and took my right thumb off below the first joint.
I was able to call 911, and 15 minutes later the ambulance arrived and took me to one hospital, then an other. About 7 hours after my accident, I was finally in an operating room and the surgeons were re-attaching my thumb. The operation took 13 hours but it did not go well, they were not able to get the blood flowing well. So, the next day I was given a choice between amputation, implanting my toe on my right hand or trying again. I opted to have the surgeons try to save my thumb for a second time. The operation lasted 8 hours, and the result was no better than the first attempt. The surgeon ordered leach therapy, every 2 hours, 24 hours a day. The following day they came for me to amputate my thumb, but the leaches had been doing their job and the thumb had a better color. Eleven days later I was undergoing a 4 hour skin graft surgery to close the wound. I was finally discharged after 14 days.
I received the hospital "bitter" bill, months later fro $269,000. The doctors, occupational therapy and the ambulance were another $120,000. My insurance policy ($790 per month for me alone), with Anthem Blue Cross had a yearly cap of $75,000.00 and a lifetime cap of $750,000.00. I was told by Anthem that the yearly caps for this policy had not been increased for 20 years. So once Anthem applied their negotiated rates, and paid up to their $75,000 yearly limit, I was stuck with the balance at the "chargemaster" list price. When I tried to negotiate with the hospital, they said they could give me 12 months to pay it off or I could speak with collections.