The Astronomical Costs Of Health Care

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Editor:

Last year, I had the misfortune of having kidney stones and I went through the anguish of passing a stone. We were well received at the Payson Regional Medical Center and the staff were attentive and courteous.

A Cat scan was recommended and done without discussion of merit or cost. The cost was in the neighborhood of $4,000. Fortunately our insurance was able to foot the bill.

Recently a friend of ours went through a similar agony and the Cat scan again was recommended. The Cat scan is a diagnostic tool with some possible adverse effects.

From "Health" magazine, April 2,004, "A Cat scan (CT) computed tomography zaps you with up to 250 times the amount of radiation in one simple X-ray. Determining the stages of certain cancerous tumors is an essential use of CT. But using it to diagnose kidney stones or to check for colon cancer, in procedure called virtual colonoscopy, may not be."

Our friend was there mainly for a painkiller. She was not notified in advance about the possible risks or the unbelievable high costs of a Cat scan. She does not have insurance. They called her and told her the cost was in the neighborhood of $5,000. What do they expect her to do? She makes just enough not to qualify for emergency aid, yet the sum is far beyond what she and her husband could afford.

I feel it is unconscionable for a medical facility to recommend a test (that is not a life-saving procedure) without letting the patient know: 1) Any possible risks 2) The extreme high cost of the procedure. 3) Do you have insurance to cover the test?

It is sad that she and so many others do not even think of going to a hospital or physician because they are fearful of paying the astronomical costs. I wonder how many premature deaths and unnecessary suffering is the result of similar feelings.

Our country should have the best medical care in the world. We have to be aware of each individual's capacity to afford this care and more steps should be made so every individual can receive the care affordable to their level of income, with or without insurance.

Ira Gibel, Pine

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