Eye Popper 2010

Posted Mon, 04/26/10

Over the weekend I received a detailed billing of my surgery and hospital stay from earlier this month.

Keep in mind I was in hospital from Thursday, 1 April to Sunday, 4 April 2010. That works out to be four days and three nights. It was a few days less time than my abdominal surgery in June 2008, when I was officially abed for five days following the medical procedure.

The grand total for the current bill – for a complete hip replacement and hospital stay – is $42,981.88.

Okay, let's be honest. Forty-two thousand dollars is more than some people earn for a living in an entire year. Without insurance, I would be stuck for the whole lot. Realistically, if I didn't have insurance the doctor probably wouldn't have even looked at me nor the hospital admitted me in the first place.

As is stands at present, I owe only $600 of the $42,981.88 because my insurance company claims it will pay the rest. This does not include the separate bills I will shortly be receiving for the doctor's services, the anesthesiologist and labs.

Here are some of the more interesting charges on the hospital whopper:

$800.00 per day x 3 for a "private" room = $2,400.00

As I said in a previous blog entry, my room was the size of the closet. Staff could barely fit equipment in the room (IV stand, rolling tray), and the whole lot had to be moved toward the door when I got up to use the loo. Needless to say, I don't feel the "private" room was worth anywhere near $800 per day. Perhaps if the day staff had been a bit more professional and less resentful of doing their jobs my judgment might be less harsh, but their indifference was appalling considering their chosen line of work. My pique probably has more to do with the crappy staff than the actual hospital room itself.

$86.12 twice per day x 4 for Lovenox injections = $688.96

As I wrote on my Meds List entry, Lovenox injections prevent blood clots. After I left the hospital, I had to give myself the injections twice daily. A fourteen-day supply of the disposable injections cost me $60 at the pharmacy. Therefore, how can one shot in the hospital cost $86.12? Were they counting the nurse's time to pop the needle into my stomach, which took all of five seconds? If I'd known the in-stay cost pre-surgery, I would have started giving myself the injections while I was still in hospital.

Blanket Warming Upper = $67.00

I'm not sure what a "Blanket Warming Upper" is. However, I do know I did not have an electric blanket. In fact, I found my hospital room over-warm so I turned the heat off completely and had a large plastic baggie full of ice on hand to keep me cool. I will likely question the "Blanket Warming Upper" charge on the bill.

Titanium Hip Stem = $9,167.00

This is the stem that connects the hip replacement to the rest of my leg. Simply unbelievable. Other costs related to the replacement parts included the Femoral Head ($3,974), Acetab Insert ($5,561), Bone Screw ($448), 2 Cancellous Screws ($896), Aluminum Ortho Sleeve ($801), and the Acetabular Shell ($3,640). Total cost for the hip replacement parts: $24,487. That's more than half the cost of the entire hospital bill.

And a few other expected charges:

OR Services (surgery time 3 hrs, 15 mins) = $6,621.49

Anesthesia (during surgery) = $724.36

Recovery Room (55 minutes) = $781.82

All I can say is thank God for insurance. I would be up the proverbial creek without it. Yet my appreciation does not blind me to the fact that medical procedures and hospital stays are cost prohibitive despite insurance coverage. Every American who is not living in extreme right-wing denial knows that the money itself is more important to insurance companies than the actual health of individual human beings.