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Ugh - medical bills


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Some of you may remember a couple of months ago I asked for advice about my little guy and some speech development issues. I did pursue evaluations, and after insurance hassles and waiting for openings and whatnot, finally this week saw a pediatric ENT about ds1's tongue tie. He said that is likely at least contributing to his issues and recommended a frenulectomy. The good news is that it is early enough that ds will likely catch up on his own and not need speech therapy. The bad news is the cost. I think I'm in sticker shock. The doc said it is a very quick and easy procedure - they use gas to put him to sleep, snip the frenulum, and let him wake up on his own. The whole thing takes 30 mins max, the doc's part is less than 5 minutes. So I thought not to big a deal, right? Then today I talk to the various people involved - doc, surgery center, and anesthesia group - and find out that our part comes to $2151.22. :ohmy:

 

We will figure out a way to make it happen, but it will probably involve taking out a line of credit or something. :sad:  It is especially frustrating because we just switched to this higher deductible plan and had been working so hard to save up enough to cover the deductible when I had to have knee surgery last month. We were able to cover all of that without taking on any more debt but it wiped out what we had managed to save.

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 I might talk to the office and see if there is anything to reduce the fee.  Such as Jennifer in MI suggested, maybe anesthesia isn't necessary?  Could you possibly get a script for a lidocaine solution to gargle with before the procedure.  I've used that solution for throat ulcers and it's pretty effective at numbing.  Before taking out a line of credit I would see if the office will set up a payment plan with you.  I'm sorry your oop cost is so high but ask as many questions as possible about options to reduce the bill or spread out the payments, it never hurts! I might also call for a second opinion.  Maybe another doc in the area does it as an office procedure w/out anesthesia.  You will incur so many extra charges with a surgical center as well as the anesthesia extras.

 

 

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My sister's son had this done without anesthesia.  Took less than two minutes.  Can you ask about that possibility to reduce cost?

 

I did ask, not because of cost but because I had so many problems with the anesthesia when I had my surgery. They said based on his exam they need him to be asleep because he kept clamping his mouth shut. I see their point. He was really calm and cooperative during the whole exam right up until they tried to look under his tongue. Even then he didn't fuss at all, not even when we pried his mouth open, although he did give lots of dirty looks. They said it would actually be easier if he would scream because at least his mouth would be open.

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Have you price checked the procedure? I know that sounds funny when it comes to medical care, but prices vary widely. Larger cities with more competition have lower prices than small towns with one main hospital system (trust me, we are in the small town and drive to the city for some things). We have a high deductible plan too, and it is wonderful most of the time, but it does stink coming up with the initial deductible.

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Since you had surgery already this year, are you that far away from your deductible? Do you have a Health Savings Account with your high deductible plan? 

 

Definitely make the calls. Often the doctor's group or hospital will help you find a way to make it happen, from juggled services to reduced payments/waved fees to payment plans. Their payment plan is better than a loan. 

 

I hear you though. Last year we went to an out-of-service provider for a consult for feeding issues. Over $1000 for a blood draw.  :rolleyes: Wish I knew that ahead of time. We had a blood draw the week before for our primary specialist with all that information. 

 

 

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My sister's son had this done without anesthesia.  Took less than two minutes.  Can you ask about that possibility to reduce cost?

 

My son also had it done this way when he was 3.  He sat in my lap. 

 

My sister also had it done this way when she was little. 

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Definitely make the calls. Often the doctor's group or hospital will help you find a way to make it happen, from juggled services to reduced payments/waved fees to payment plans. Their payment plan is better than a loan. 

 

Call and tell them you are concerned about this and see what they say. Ask if there is any way to reduce the bill and what their terms are.

 

Most doctor's offices have no-interest or low-interest payment plans these days, much better than you'll get through a bank.

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I don't know if I would do a line of credit, if they don't ask for payment up front, I would just pay the Dr's off slowly over time (after the insurance paid)

 

They do require payment up front. They use Care Credit, which offers a 12 month no interest option.

 

Have you price checked the procedure? I know that sounds funny when it comes to medical care, but prices vary widely. Larger cities with more competition have lower prices than small towns with one main hospital system (trust me, we are in the small town and drive to the city for some things). We have a high deductible plan too, and it is wonderful most of the time, but it does stink coming up with the initial deductible.

 

Unfortunately, we live in a rural area so we don't have many options. This doctor is the only one within a hundred miles that will see kids as young as ds. He is only 19 months.

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Since you had surgery already this year, are you that far away from your deductible? Do you have a Health Savings Account with your high deductible plan? 

 

Definitely make the calls. Often the doctor's group or hospital will help you find a way to make it happen, from juggled services to reduced payments/waved fees to payment plans. Their payment plan is better than a loan. 

 

I hear you though. Last year we went to an out-of-service provider for a consult for feeding issues. Over $1000 for a blood draw.  :rolleyes: Wish I knew that ahead of time. We had a blood draw the week before for our primary specialist with all that information. 

 

This actually takes us the rest of the way to our family deductible, plus a 20% "co-insurance". So at least we know we are good for the rest of the year!

 

I have been googling to find other docs that will see kids under two, even if we had to drive to one of the bigger cities, but I'm not having much luck outside of hospitals. And apparently the hospital fee is even higher than the surgery center fee according to my insurance.

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I have been googling to find other docs that will see kids under two, even if we had to drive to one of the bigger cities, but I'm not having much luck outside of hospitals. And apparently the hospital fee is even higher than the surgery center fee according to my insurance.

 

Yes, that is usually the case.  The gastro practice we use added an outpatient facility, and it has been much cheaper to have procedures there.  Even the anesthesiologist charges less.

 

Sometimes you have to bite your lip and move forward. One of our specialists is nationally-ranked doctor.  And we pay a clinic fee to the hospital, his fee, and parking every time we go, which is about 6-8 times a year.  Plus gas and aggravation to get there.  But he's worth going on a payment plan.

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