It is important to understand that in the United States all doctors, hospitals, laboratories; basically health care providers of any kind charge different prices for the same procedure or service to different customers depending on what type of insurance you have, if any. For example, if you have a medical policy from a large health insurer, you may pay a $25 co-pay to see the doctor which is then followed by a $35 claims payment from your health insurer for a total reimbursement cost to the doctor of $60 for a basic doctor's office visit.
If you are uninsured however, you do not have the benefit of a PPO agreement that reduces the total charge amount of that basic doctor's office visit from let's say a retail cost of $150 for an uninsured person to the total cost of $60 for the insured person.
The bottom line is that there is normally a great difference between what you pay when you are insured to what you pay when you are uninsured.
Unable to presently afford a health insurance premium of more than $2,000 a month my wife and I are uninsured for the first time in our lives. I have worked in health care finance for more than 20 years and fully expected to pay higher rates for services and have no problem with that. It is representative of our flawed heath care system and that is that.
But when I learned that Quest Diagnostics charged me a mark-up over cost of 5,435.6% for a simple urinalysis I became sick to my stomach. I want my health care providers to make a profit and earn a good living but I draw the line at pure unadulterated greed.
In the case of my simple urinalysis, it was necessary to collect a clean catch urine sample mid-stream (Sterile plastic urine cup for mid-stream collection priced $2.99 individually, significant discounts for volume purchase). Once the urine sample has been collected, it is then necessary to dip a five part test strip into the urine and leave it in the urine for 10-15 seconds (test strips priced at $1.39 each with volume discounts available).
After the test strip is withdrawn from the urine sample, the attendant looks for test lines and specific colors to appear on the strip. The total cost for the supplies, if you buy them one at a time versus the massive volume purchases that a national lab company like Quest Diagnostics, then the total cost of supplies will cost you $4.38!
A low paid medical clerk can perform the test which requires some 5 minutes staff time per test bringing the total cost of my test from $4.38 to $10.93.
If Quest Diagnostics had made a profit of 300% I would have been fine. Heck I could have jumped for joy if they charged me $10.93 plus 600% or $65.58. But 600% is not enough for Quest Diagnostics who charged me a whopping $597.00 for a simple urinalysis!!!
Think about this for a minute . . . Quest Diagnostics performs a simple urine test that a chimp could perform with a cup of pee and a simple test strip & charges you $597.00! If you bought a test strip and a sterile clean catch medical supply urine cup you could do this test at home for $4.38.
Quest Diagnostics, with their national buying power that is the medical equal of a Wal-Mart in the lab supply business, is able to perform this test with a supply cost that is $2.00 or less, is charging uninsured people a whopping $597.00 - the cost of an M.R.I. or Cat Scan, for a simple urinalysis.
We all should be angry over heath care charges like this. Health care provider greed is the single biggest factor behind why health care and health insurance cost more in America than anywhere else in the world.
So when your doctor gives you instructions to get a lab test or any kind, go the www.healthcarebluebook.com
and find out what the average cost of your lab work is in your area. then get on the phone and call at least three different lab providers and ask for a quote on what they charge.
Finally do not be afraid to ask for a discount. And negotiate hard as if you were buying a new car. Think of it, if you paid a profit of 5,434.5% to your Toyota dealer for a new Camry you would spend $1,358,875 for your new 4 cylinder LE!!!
Shame on you Quest Diagnostics!!!