Dear Tom and Alan:
I recently went to a local hospital for a CT scan.
Boy, was I shocked when I received the bill. I’m under 65 and have a high deductible health plan, so the majority of the expense was out of my pocket.
After the fact, I checked around and found if I went to another location in the Bay Area I could have had the same test for 75 percent less.
Do I have any recourse from the hospital I went to, maybe to get a refund?
Tom: Thanks for the question.
This is one we get at least weekly. Some call after getting sticker shock and wondering if they have the wrong insurance carrier. Some come by and ask what they did wrong.
In any case, recourse from the hospital is probably a non-starter. You will have to remember that most hospitals are open 24-hours-a-day and 365-days-a-year. That’s an expensive proposition.
The answer is to shop around for elective non-emergency care. I have read of prices for a CT scan as low as $495 and as high as $4,500.
The free-standing imaging centers are a retail business open maybe five days per week during regular business hours.
MRI, endoscopy, colonoscopy, and other procedures can be shopped for price. There are many outpatient surgery centers in our area that don’t require an overnight stay.
Al: One of the more common outpatient surgeries is Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) surgery. I made the mistake of reading too many of the details on WebMD (kind of squeamish).
Anyway, according to one nationwide comparison of the costs of ACL surgery in different areas, in Memphis, Tennessee, the cost is $3,510 and in San Jose, the cost is $20,162.
Tom: On a different subject, we prepared an outstanding column last year about the new urgent care center that had opened in the summer of 2016. Unfortunately, the center still hadn’t yet opened.
Well … it’s open now.
Through the auspices of St. Joseph Health, Queen of the Valley Medical Center, an urgent care center is open at 1621 West Imola Ave.
They offer “… a more convenient, less expensive choice for situations that require immediate medical attention but are not life-threatening.”
They are open daily from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. and offer the following services: minor broken bones; sprains and sports injuries; ear infections; sinus infections; sore throats; colds and flu symptoms; mild allergic reactions; mild asthma; fever or rash; animal bites; minor cuts and burns; urinary tract infections; and other stuff.
Al: I called to ask if they write prescriptions, but got a recording. I can tell you the official name is St. Joseph Health Prompt Care and that they do bill the insurance companies for you. The number: 707-232-5566.