Today we got our first big statement of charges from all the medical services we've used over the last 3 weeks. $19,000 for my little foray to get my excisional biopsy done two Wednesdays ago. And that was an outpatient procedure. Yikes! So far our insurance has been great (fingers crossed). We have a $1,000 yearly cap per person on medical expenses for in-system provided care and we also have a flex spend account that lets us pay for that $1k with pre-tax dollars. I had a chance to sit down with the finance person from the oncology center we're using and she confirmed that she has gotten approval from our insurance for all the treatments I'll be getting.
Even though I'm extremely happy with the insurance we have, it really makes you think about what this experience would be like if you didn't have insurance. I really don't know what happens. I suspect that a treatment center like we're going to would just simply deny us service. They don't do ANYTHING until they get approval from the insurance company that they'll pay for it. If the insurance company can't pay, you pay. And if you can't pay - what? You die? You end up somewhere else with way less competent people putting life threatening chemicals into your body? Given my focus on getting myself healthy I probably won't think much about these issues over the next few months but it's chilling when you realize that we as a society definitely put a price tag on a human life. And when the life happens to be you, that decision point becomes a lot more personal.