So there’s this wheelchair, the one that sits in the bedroom waiting to see if the paralysis I suffered after a fall and subsequent spinal surgery last May returns and forces me to give up my walker and take a seat. This chair haunts the hell out of me, but I have no place to put it where it can’t be seen. In fact, when I first laid eyes on it, it had a pretty profound effect on me. I wrote about it in my June 24th posting on this blog. Today, the chair continues to be an intrusion, this time because I got to see how much it cost.
Folks on Medicare get a monthly statement that itemizes their medical expenses. It includes the cost submitted by the caretaker or provider, whether or not the Medicare Gods will sanction payment and how much. The claim is always set substantially high by the doctors, hospitals and other providers because it is normal that Medicare will pay only a percentage of it. It’s a ridiculous game.
Unfortunately, part of our American culture is greed. Many folks have no problem asking an exorbitant amount of money for something they are selling. They hope to get more than the item is worth…and often they do. The entire medical industry is super greedy. I’ve have had a pretty robust accumulation of medical bills this year. I am sure my caretakers will say the claims are accurate and justified. Uh-huh.
The cost of my wheelchair showed up on the Medicare statement I got today. I won’t bother detailing the cost of the chair itself (the claim was in the thousands) along with an incredible list of options that came with it. In fact, this wheelchair offered more options than a new automobile. I’m surprised it didn’t come turbo-charged or with mag wheels. It did however come with a “supplemental” back for the chair that I have never installed. It, too, sits in the corner of the bedroom, still wrapped in sealed plastic, That’s it in the picture. It’s a basic cushion that’s 20 inches wide, 17 inches high and 2½ inches thick. How much do you think the provider billed Medicare for this item? No, you’re wrong. Medicare shelled out $260.92 for it. The provider originally claimed it cost $425.55. No wonder medical insurance is so outrageous.
Stupid me thinks the cushion–and all the other goods and services in the medical biz– should be priced the old fashioned way: calculate the cost of the item to manufacturer and distribute, add on a reasonable profit and slap a price sticker on it. “Reasonable” is the operative word there. But you know, as I do, trying to lower medical bills these days, well good luck with that.