A community member shared one price — anesthesia during treatment for an ectopic pregnancy. We asked for details, and she said:
1. This was the bill from the anesthesiologist during a salpingectomy I had. It was an emergency surgery that arose from an ER visit. I was discharged the same day.
2. I have healthcare through the University of California (I’m a PhD student at Berkeley). I have not met my deductible. I also have coinsurance through my parents, although they didn’t pay anything for the anesthesia.
3. There were a bunch of bills — the ER copay, the surgeon’s bill for the surgery itself, the imaging bill for the ultrasound, the anesthesiologist’s bill for anesthesia only, and a few other office visits. It’s a bit of a mess. I probably paid around $600-700 out-of-pocket.
I asked her to check her records and to send details if she could. I’m grateful to her for the work she did to collect the charges, and to create a spreadsheet. It shows here the total charges, $45,136.21, total insurance discount $12,226.24, total insurance payment $32,351.33, and her total out of pocket $544.64. Here’s her reply.
This turned out to be even more messy than I remembered! I never got a detailed medical bill (with CPT numbers) from the surgery itself, but I pulled the line item descriptions, costs, and insurance adjustments and payouts from my EOB forms. There are like 14 entries in a row that just say “Drugs”, but I have no idea what drugs these are or when I got them (perhaps unconscious?). This is part of why your TED talk resonated with me.
Here’s a brief timeline to make sense of things:
6/4/18 Berkeley Tang Center (at my university) for a medical exam following discomfort; positive urine pregnancy test result with IUD in place
6/4/18 Planned Parenthood for an ultrasound, blood test (quantitative blood HCG), and removal of IUD
6/6/18 Planned Parenthood again for a follow-up blood test (which they could not perform due to failing to find a vein; they sent me back to Berkeley)
6/6/18 Berkeley Tang Center for another blood test (qualitative pregnancy test)
6/7/18 Berkeley Tang Center for yet another blood test (quantitative blood HCG)
At this point, blood tests indicated my HCG count (pregnancy hormone level) was decreasing, and no pregnancy was found on the ultrasound. They assumed a miscarriage and sent me home. A few weeks later, I had incredible pain and bleeding and went to the ER, at which point they discovered that it had been an ectopic pregnancy and was now life-threatening.
6/24/18 Emergency room visit at Alta Bates Hospital in Berkeley; another ultrasound; emergency laparoscopic salpingectomy upon discovery of ectopic pregnancy.
Post-op appointment with the surgeon in Lafayette, CA.
I attached the spreadsheet that you sent me, although I added a column for insurance adjustments so the numbers add up correctly.
Jeanne Pinder is the founder and CEO of ClearHealthCosts. She worked at The New York Times for almost 25 years as a reporter, editor and human resources executive, then volunteered for a buyout and founded ClearHealthCosts.
She was previously a fellow at the Tow Center for Digital Journalism at the Columbia University School of Journalism. ClearHealthCosts has won grants from the Tow-Knight Center for Entrepreneurial Journalism at the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at the City University of New York; the International Women’s Media Foundation; the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation with KQED public radio in San Francisco and KPCC in Los Angeles; the Lenfest Foundation in Philadelphia for a partnership with The Philadelphia Inquirer; and the New York State Health Foundation for a partnership with WNYC public radio/Gothamist in New York; and other honors.
Her TED talk about fixing health costs has surpassed 2 million views.