My Annual Healthcare Rant

It’s time for me to get my annual mammogram at the for-profit HCA/Centennial, which means it’s time for my annual rant about our for-profit healthcare system. I blogged about my experience last year, in which I was offered an opportunity to pay for the service out of pocket upfront, at no discernible benefit to me because it’s all going to be paid by my insurance anyway.

So this year I got the same “give me my money” phone call, which they laughably call “pre-registration.” I give them my name and address and other contact info (which they already have because it’s in their system) and then I get the rigamarole about how much the service will cost — this time she’s clear to say it’s “because my insurance hasn’t been verified.” Last year, they just told me the service would be $150. So I’m glad they’re at least clarifying the insurance angle. But still, I’m supposed to do what, exactly, with this information? Start selling off the family heirlooms? I have insurance, mammograms are covered, now go away, please.

And then 24 hours later I get yet another phone call from the same person who “pre-registered” me yesterday, to say my insurance has been verified. Which you’d think would be good news, but in HCA Land, it’s actually another opportunity for them to try to get my money. For a 20% discount, I can pay now! Yes, that’s actually the deal I was offered. I can pay for the service at 20% off now, or I can do nothing and my insurance company will pay the full price (repriced, but whatevs). I mean, my insurance pays 100%.

I mean, seriously, people? WTF? Why not just lower your prices 20% and then we can all reap the reward of lower insurance premiums?

I cannot believe this is going on.

Mr. Beale is furious. He wants to know, if I do pay now at the 20% discount, and then BlueCross/BlueShield remimburses at 100%, who gets that extra 20%? HCA?


Filed under HCA, health insurance, healthcare, Nashville

19 responses to “My Annual Healthcare Rant

  1. Mary Wilson

    Hey, SB, here’s the deal…which will make you LIVID ! First, every ding bat TEA Hater has the best medical care that our State can pay for, FOR the rest of their sorry lives. And today the TEA BOT Governor stated that he absolutely refuses to order a special session to get the seat fillers who HATE sick and dying poor people to VOTE YES on the issue. AND HCA, Blue Cross/Blue Shield announced their rates will increase by 36% next year. So nothing has changed here. Some will DIE without the money to get affordable insurance. Four hospitals have already closed…but now the TN Hospital Association is RIGHT ON with the HCA….after two years of their for-profits being against TennCare Expansion! More details to come. Meanwhile, here in TN we are still protesting Ron Ramsey at every auction he works. Next 2 are scheduled in Bristol and ERWIN !

  2. bizgrrl

    I’m guessing the price HCA wanted you to pay upfront is more than the price your insurance company would pay. HCA would get your money and you would duke it out with the insurance company to get reimbursed.

  3. You’d be surprised how many people will pay them and not ask questions. I guess they never read their insurance handbooks. If it wasn’t a money-maker for HCA, they wouldn’t waste the time doing it. You have to remember, when you are dealing with the amounts of money this would represent, it doesn’t matter that they might have to refund it to the customer 6 or 8 months later – they have had the use of it in the meantime. (Same principle as check floating, but,of course, it’s not a crime when banks and corporations do it!)

  4. Kosh III

    But…but…but. HCA can’t possibly be making a profit. The poor dears had to come begging for millions and millions in welfare from wethepeople to build their new deeeelux office building.

  5. I work at a datacenter for a for-profit healthcare company here in Nashville (it’s not HCA.)

    When hospitals or doctors have computer problems we get angry emails. When billing people have computer problems we have managers in here, throwing chairs.

  6. Jim in Memphis

    i don’t understand why you rant about healthcare being for profit. Why don’t you complain about other necessary for life activities that are for profit? Why should Kroger, Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, etc. be able to sell food for a profit when everyone has to eat to live? Why should home builders be able to sell houses at a profit when everyone needs shelter to live? You never rant about profit on these activities yet healthcare profits are seen as obscene.

    • HCA-Centennial is a for-profit hospital, unlike St. Thomas or Vanderbilt, the other two choices in Nashville. That’s my rant. And there are a helluva lot more food options than there are healthcare options. I can even grow my own tomatoes if I want to. I can’t diagnose breast cancer myself.

      Apples and oranges, Jim.

      • Jim in Memphis

        So don’t go to HCA. Go to the non profit hospital. If HCA is the only hospital covered by your insurance then you should change insurance to one that is accepted at Vandy or St. Thomas. Of course you don’t like St. Thomas either because it is run by the evil Catholics that won’t provide an abortion at their non profit hospital.

        The comparison to selling food is not apples and oranges either. I wager you could live a lot longer without buying healthcare than you could without buying food or shelter. And good luck getting everyone to grow their own food and build their own houses. The fact is these are services that everyone needs to live just as much if not more than healthcare. Nobody seems to have a problem with businesses and individuals making a profit by selling food or construction services.

      • Well first of all, I don’t have a choice because HCA is where my doctor sends me. Second of all, if you don’t understand the difference between the costs of production, distribution and delivery of healthcare vs the costs of production, delivery and distribution of FOOD then all I can say to you Jim is go take an econ class. A real one, not one of those Libertarian BS classes.

      • Jim in Memphis

        What does the difference in costs have to do with whether or not someone should be allowed to make a profit on something? To make a profit one has to sell what they offer for more than it cost them to make it. The relative costs of production between food, shelter, and healthcare are not relevant with whether or not a profit is being made.

        Again, if you don’t like HCA and that is the only place your doctor will send you then make the choice to change doctors to one that will use a non profit hospital. Nobody is holding a gun to your head forcing you to go to this place for your healthcare.

      • Why should I have to change my doctor of 30 years? And if you don’t understand the difference between making a profit off of a 30-cent orange and $30,000 MRI machine, well there’s just no hope for you, buddy. Healthcare is not fucking detergent. It’s completely different.

        You know, this thing you do of seeing everything in black and white, never acknowledging the shades of gray in anything. It’s fucking pathological.

      • CB

        It’s also rather passive agressive.

  7. Tom Dunlap

    Sure, you can wait longer for health care than you can eating. Except when you can’t. It’s called insurance for a reason, to deal with the unexpected and unplanned. You know when it’s time to eat and if you miss a meal once in a while, no biggie. If you can’t afford “wellness checkups” or a doctor visit you could miss something that would shorten your life. I for one would not be here except for a thorough PA who made the right call.

  8. democommie

    “Again, if you don’t like HCA and that is the only place your doctor will send you then make the choice to change doctors to one that will use a non profit hospital. Nobody is holding a gun to your head forcing you to go to this place for your healthcare.”

    Gosh, Jimbo(b):

    Have you ever been dying of cancer while trying to get authorization for chemo? Have you ever been puking blood or shitting your lower intestine while waiting to find out if your visit to the ER is gonna bankrupt you?

    Howzabout if that doctor that you want to have Southern Beale walk away from was the only one in the area who could perform the surgery YOU need to get a functioning soul?

    You’re a fucking moron.

    • The idea that I should have to change my OB/GYN doctor of 30 YEARS because I’m not happy with the place where she does mammogram REFERRALS is just a textbook answer to the question “what is wrong with American healthcare.” Ironically it’s also the answer to the question, “What is wrong with simplistic Libertarian free-market one-size-fits-all arguments.”

  9. Seeker

    I agree with bizgrrl; if the stated price is $150, your insurance company might only be reimbursing them $80. If the hospital can get YOU, the consumer, to pay $110, then they’ve won. THAT is why they are pressuring you to pay up front. In the meantime, if your insurance company only pays $80 for the procedure, when they finally get around to reimbursing you for paying for it, they will only reimburse you $80, not the $110 you actually paid.

  10. Bob Fischer

    If I understand Jim’s argument correctly, then the tax rate of any business making a profit should be based on the percentage of profit they make. If say, the Fed charges .075% to bank for money and the bank charges 15% to the consumer for credit card interest then the bank should pay a 200% tax rate for the money earned. Or should it be 2000%. That’s how this argument works right? I always get amazed when I figure how much money the rich think they’re entitled to screw the poor out of, tax free of course.

    • If you understand Jimbo(b)’s argument, then you’d be one up on me AND Jimbo(b).

      Jimbo(b)’s pretty much the textbook case for a guy who would drive up the Mount Washington Auto Road and claim that he climbed the hill.