- Posted February 26, 2013 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Bitter pill: The cost of health care in the U.S.
I hear the problem loud and clear now
I was intending to go into the military and sought to get a basic physical before going through the rigors of MEPS, just to insure no surprises. I went to an urgent care in SC where the physical was performed. During the examination the doctor asked me if I had any health concerns or problems. I reiterated that I was there just to get a routine physical and that the hearing in my right ear was diminished slightly. Nothing I was too concerned myself about as I could hear well enough, but I figured since I was there I could bring it up.
Upon a second inspection of my ear the doctor said I did have an unusually high amount of wax, and asked if I wanted her to clean it. I answered in the affirmative and they proceeded to clean my ears. The nurses aide mixes hydrogen peroxide and warm water in a bowl and uses a irrigation tipped syringe to clean out the excess wax.
The broken up blockade instantly restores my full hearing. I give the urgent care my insurance information and leave. On the way home I stop by a CVS and pick up a bottle of hydrogen peroxide and an ear irrigater for $7.
A few weeks later the bill comes, and they charge me roughly $150 for the ear cleaning, another $150 for the physical itself. To make matters worse they code the bill improperly making it seem like I went to the doctor specifically for the ear cleaning and not the general physical. My insurance coverage covered routine physicals but this error meant that I would be on the hook for the full $300 payment.
While I have the money to pay the $300, I have been in a battle for the past 6 months against the urgent care trying to get them to correct the billing code. If corrected my insurance would cover the bill but they remain adamant in the absurd notion that I came to them specifically to clean my ear wax.
After the horror stories about medical costs driving people to bankruptcy, I consider myself lucky that this is the most I have to deal with. However the notion that I would be charged $150 for something I do now once a week still operating off of that $7 bottle of hydrogen peroxide and ear irrigater is a small but all too real example of the price gouging that occurs in the medical field.