Thursday, September 8, 2011

Bariatric Betty and Hospital B

Another week, another information session.  This time it was hospital B, the world-reknown hospital's bariatric center.  Most of the information was similar to what I heard at Hospital A's info session, but the resources given to us were very different.  We got a bound collection of information about the surgeries, possible risks, side effects, outcomes, pre-surgical instructions and diets, post surgical instructions and recipies and diets - basically a really good This-is-what-will-happen resource.  In addition, I got a card from them in the mail saying that I was considered a low risk patient, and only needed to provide them with recent labs, ekg and chest x-ray.  No sleep study required (like it was at hospital A), no stress test (implied that it was required at hospital A), etc.  I also got clued in on something to look for.  Bariatric Centers of Excellence is a national certification indicating high volume, good outcome, low complication rates.  Hospital B is proud to announce that they are one of only two hospitals in the area to be certified.  Hospital A is NOT the other one.  Surprisingly that honor goes to the small catholic hospital C.

Speaking of Hospital C, I also got an amazingly different quote for the cost of the surgery there.  They said that the average cost of the surgeon, facility, and everything except the anesthesia is $24,000!  That's right, at least $16,000 less than the other hospitals. 

That combined with the Bariatric Center of Excellence certification and everything else lead me to decide to cancel my appointment with the surgeon at Hospital A.  I'm considering contacting their patient advocate, PR department, and possibly someone else to make sure that they give accurate information to people who come to their information session from now on.  I spoke to one of their program coordinators yesterday and she still couldn't provide me with how much the average charge would be for the surgeon or anesthesiology.  She also came right out and said that they would only charge a self pay patient $20,000 instead of $40,000 for everything other than the surgeon and anesthesiology.  So if I had done my surgery there, I would have been paying approximately $11,000 and my insurance would have paid $15,000 out of the $40,000 and they would have gotten $7,000 more than with a self pay patient.  I understand the difficulty of self pay patients - we've had to pay out of pocket for speech therapy and other services for my son with special needs before, but why should an insured patient have to pay  $7000 more for the same service?  I was also told that their patients that work at Hospital A end up paying $17,000.  I would imagine that they would get the best deal possible, so I don't have a problem with the $3000 discrepancy between that and the self pay $20,000, but that means just because I have different insurance, they will get $9000 more paid out of my pocket than an employee. 

I contacted my insurance and they are trying to find the allowable amount for the surgery at hospital C, and I scheduled to attend an info session for hospital C next week.  Hospital A is history.  Hospital B and C are still in the running.  Who knew this would be so hard?

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