Last month my husband had a lipoma removed from his back. His lipoma was a pre-existing condition when we got our health insurance, so it’s excluded from the policy. Because we knew we’d be paying for the removal and pathology (it came back benign, luckily), he had called around to several dermatologists to see what they would charge. In each case, he was clear that insurance wouldn’t cover it and explained what he needed to have done. Most of the quotes he got were between $300 and $600. We got the bill yesterday: $1650 (plus another $165 for the initial consultation). Holy crap. I know that estimates can be a little off, but this is almost three times the upper end of the ranges he was quoted. Today, he called back to the place that did his lipoma removal and pretended to be a new patient inquiring about costs, much the same as he had done a month ago. He explained the lipoma, it’s size and location, his lack of insurance coverage for this condition, and asked for a price. The quote? $200 – $300. This time around, he recorded the whole phone call. Now we can call the dermatologist back and discuss the recorded price quote and the bill we received for 6 times that much. If it’s not possible for them to give an accurate quote, they probably shouldn’t be giving out numbers over the phone. We’re wondering just how much our insurance would have approved for this procedure had it not been excluded. I’m guessing it would have been a whole lot less. The whole thing was done in the doctor’s office (no hospital overhead fees) and took less than an hour, from when she first shook his hand until he was being sent out the door with a painkiller prescription. They didn’t even give him anything to dress the wound with – just instructions to change the dressing twice a day. So I was at the drugstore that evening buying whatever I could find that would cover the incision and not irritate his skin. You’d think that for $1800 you’d at least get a few bandages thrown in. I’ll let you know what happens once we present the doctor’s office with the recorded phone call. Should be interesting anyway.
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