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Friday, January 23, 2009

Colonoscopies Are a Pain in the Ass

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This falls squarely into the “Too Freakin’ Much Information” category, and for that I offer an apology. But it’s my site and I’ll write about what I want to write.

So there.

For reasons best left undiscussed in a family forum, but directly related to my trip to India, and at the relatively tender age of 38, I had to undergo a colonoscopy about a month ago. Anyone with an overdeveloped worry reflex can put their mind at ease because everything came out alright. In the end. I didn’t want to write that last part, but there’s a Federal law covering jokes in this situation and I would have been in violation without that bit of boilerplate colonoscopy humor.

Anyway, while there is much hilarity to be found in the actual procedure and in watching a video of a camera marching its way through your tender, pink innards, grabbing bits and pieces of your intestine for later testing, this isn’t actually about the procedure. In fact, I didn’t actually have a colonoscopy, so I didn’t get the good drugs; I had something with a much longer name that is ridiculously harder to type, that still involves cameras being shoved up your butt, that comes without the good drugs but with all of the bad, stomach nuking drugs that make the day and night before a near-colonoscopy such a treat for everyone involved.

From what I’ve heard, I’d actually have enjoyed a real colonoscopy a bit more than its supposedly easier-going little brother. My advice to everyone is this: always go for the procedure that gets you the best drugs. I digress: this post is actually about the aftermath. The financial aftermath.

My insurance has a regular office visit co-pay of $30 and a specialist co-pay of $50. Cynic that I am, I expected the higher co-pay.

Which is why I was shocked (shocked) to get the bill from the service provider (rhymes, in part, with “miser,” if you catch my drift) for $200.

I rushed to find the hefty booklet that covered all the fees, limitations, services, and costs associated with my coverage and found that the bill wasn’t wrong. It was right. I owed $200 for the privilege of having someone shove a camera up my ass. Which made me feel cheap on the one hand and cranky about the unexpected expense on the other. Of course, to be fair, I really should consider the feelings of the nurse and the doctor who actually performed the procedure in the financial and emotional calculus of the event.

I know I should look at the bright side since the actual procedure cost was a bit under $400. I suppose that half off is actually quite a deal. The problem is that I’m not sure I should ever have to pay for the simple joys of having a complete stranger and his assistant shove a camera up my ass. I’m not sure who should pay, and a government bailout seems a little far-fetched, but it still seems a steep price for the indignity involved.*

What really gets me is that there were only a handful of procedures that had the extra-special cost associated. That got me wondering: why charge extra for something like this? Are they afraid of roaming hordes of folks who might go in for extra innings if the price was lowered? They want to discourage that sort of thing?

Because, trust me, I’m not going back for seconds if I don’t have to.

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