Saturday, February 7, 2009

Cancer is Expensive

Who knew? Maybe they haven't found a cure for cancer because there is so much money in it. Cancer Vixen figured out that start to finish it was just (barely) under $200,000 for breast cancer treatment. And hers was remarkably similar to mine.

So, yeah, the bills started rolling in today. Don't get me wrong, I've got insurance...good insurance (so I keep being told; which really makes me worry about what happens to people with "not good" insurance). It's still shocking to see the bills. I've paid $20 every time I phoned or drove by a Riverside health care facility (luckily, there just aren't that many of them) and I had to pay $250 for my deductible the day before surgery (new year, new disease, new deductible!), but that's basically been it so far. Until I opened the mail. The bills thus far only include up to the biopsy (and I think only 9 of the 42 departments involved in that have billed so far). The biopsy was January 9th. I've still got a month of bills to go! And counting...

My big plan today was to just relax and be home doing "normal" stuff while Chris was at Riverside Plaza interviewing future (or, um, maybe not) Princetonians for the afternoon. It started out okay--six loads of laundry or so. Right. I know. Who knew laundry could be a good thing. But in between whites and colors I sat down to pay bills online and get myself organized. Wow. Apparently it takes one tree of paperwork per medical procedure and procedure must be defined, by insurance folks, as one arm movement, hand gesture, step or thought. So I got billed separately for 6,439 items. I think they missed the extra bandages and surgical tape I received as a parting gift though, so bonus points for me!! And call me a skeptic, but I wanted to match up what my insurance said I owed vs. what I was being billed for. They say lawyers love their paperwork? Somebody is getting paid by the pound at Blue Cross, that's all I can say. And Riverside Community Hospital (who somehow owns and/or operates the facility that did the ultrasound and mammogram in December; which frightens me deeply--RCH, not the mammogram) has already sent a total of 6 bills--three of which were duplicates. They must be counting on the "squeaky wheel getting the bucks" theory or just hoping I'm really bad at math. Or just used to not being paid and a tad paranoid.

So between the time off work (I think I'm already at the equivalent of 9 days off work since this started December 18, 2008...not counting the couple of Saturdays I would have normally worked if I wasn't CANCER person; and when I don't work, I don't earn), the co-pays, deductibles and 20% pay for multiple procedures...yeah, cancer is freakin' expensive!! In better news though, also in the mail was Blue Cross's approval for a hospital stay should I need it immediately following the surgery that occurred 10 days ago.

Oh, and I filled out the 1/2" of paperwork needed to go talk to the Rancho Cucamonga oncologist. Luckily my job was made much easier by the fact that the "family history" portion very clearly was only concerned with "biological" family members. This eliminates 4/5 of my family. And yet, I still didn't have most of the information they needed. For example, 3 out of 4 of my biological grandparents were deceased before I turned 18. I don't know their ages at time of death or causes of death, nor can I imagine how that's long as it wasn't breast cancer and it wasn't. And really, how is it relevant whether I'm heterosexual or homosexual and what religious preference I (don't) have?? I'm liking UCLA better and better and better. Plus, AMY HARRISON gave me all the second, third and fourth opinions I would need (UCLA has apparently saved the lives of just about anyone she's ever known...and I did see Amy the night before I first went to the doctor in December....hmmmm......).

A couple of other random notes...I was not lab experiment number 13. I was disqualified from the research. Yeah, I spent an hour in a tube the night before surgery for nothing. Okay, not quite nothing...from me they were able to learn that they can't do the MRI Spectroscopy testing on women who have the micro clips implanted in the breast during the biopsy. Don't ask me what the microclip is, other than some sort of minuscule marker to help find the spot later (and $352 on the bill). But it's there and it messes up the spectroscopy. So I flunked the research portion of my breast cancer studies.

And finally, Chris offered to shave his head in solidarity when I start chemo. Honestly, Chris has a gorgeous head of hair--really, it's "Democrat hair" (think Kennedy, Kerry, Clinton...yeah, you got it).

I would finally cry if he shaved his head!! I don't even like it when he gets it cut short! I've got wimpy, high maintenance, pain in the butt, limp hair. Who cares what happens to my hair?? So he came up with a better idea.

And he'll share that with you Sunday night, when I turn the blog over to him. For now, I'm going to go watch a silly movie. And the dog had better not die!!


  1. When I was doing home nursing care for this one man who had a bad fall while on his way to Nevada for horse races, he showed me his medical bills before TriCare For Life and Medicare covered his medical costs. Over $1,000,00. "Holy crap!" was my response. You're right. People with "not good" insurance go without good medical care. It's sad that a price tag is put on our lives. But, we are all thankful that you have everything taken care of. I guess in the grand scheme of this whole cancer thing, a co-pay here and there pales in comparison to what you could be paying...

  2. Yes I agree Chris should not shave off all that beautiful hair. But I'm going to have to wait till tomorrow morning to find out what he has in mind as I am very tired...g'night :)


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