Friday, February 22, 2008

Accessing Healthcare, Part 1

[Welcome Industry Radar readers!]

We start today's lesson with a rebus:
Snowblower + icy driveway + gravity = broken (right) wrist
In my own defense, the polite and efficient ER doc informed me that there were four(!) other Y-chromosome types in the ER, at the same time, with comparable (and identically acquired) injuries.
Regular readers know that we recently switched to an Aetna HDHP/HSA; this post (and perhaps one or two others) will serve as a real-life, real-time assessment.
In the event, I was transported to the nearest hospital (a gorgeous, brand-spanking new, state-of-the-art facility). It was VERY cool:
First, I was assigned my own room (complete with sliding-glass doors, ala Dr House). The admitting person came to me: she wheeled in a cart (complete with PC, HD monitor, scanner and printer) and got my vitals: insurance card, co-pay, mother's maiden name, grandfather's trust number, you know.
She printed off the appropriate forms, stuck them in a clipboard, handed that to me, and said "sign here, please." I looked at her, then at my swollen and painfully mis-shaped wrist, and observed sagely: "you have to be kidding! "
But she wasn't; she nicely told me to use my left hand and "do my best." So I scribbled something illegible, and handed it back (but not before my youngest stood up, examined the signature and exclaimed: "really, Dad, it's no worse than your regular handwriting." She's her mother's daughter).
Then it was time for x-rays. But, they didn't wheel me to radiology, they wheeled the x-ray machine to my room! Wow.
To no one's surprise, the x-ray confirmed a broken wrist. Great.
And then came the question: do you want the on-call orthopaedic surgeon? Of course not. Dr Bob referred me to a pre-eminent hand specialist (at some point, I truly expect to be told "oh, I can't do that: you need a pinkie specialist!").
But that's another post [ed: well, we should hope so].
What I found so intriguing was the efficient (but not-impersonal) workflow: every person brought the supplies, equipment and expertise necessary for their task. I didn't feel rushed, but neither did I feel as if the wait was endless.
At some point in the next few weeks, I'll receive my EOB (Explanation of Benefits) which will list all of the medicine that was committed upon me, how much the hospital charged for said services, how much the insurance will allow them to charge, and (finally) how much I owe. When it comes, I'll share it with you, along with the strategy we'll use to pay for it.
(And yes, I typed this with my left-hand, and two vicodin's)
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