Healthcare pricing. Huge topic. Especially with the Turing Pharmaceutical debacle a few weeks back. And now with Imprimis Pharmaceuticals stepping in to undercut the price of that same drug to $.99 a pill…Sometimes pharma is cool! We tend to forget, though, this is a common practice in pharma, and this won’t be the last time.
I’d like to bring it down a level and share a personal, recent, healthcare story.
I have flat feet. Like, Flinstone’s flat feet. Currently, I have a sprained tendon and during my last check up at the foot doctor, he recommended getting custom orthotics to help support my arch and avoid me spraining these tendons in the future.
I agreed and asked how much and would my insurance cover it. He told me the nurse would be in and she could answer those questions. Nurse came in and started to do some paperwork. Before she started prepping the orthotic mold, I asked about the price. She told me my insurance did not cover it and the cost would be $480… wow… whoa… huh… WHAT???
To someone who doesn’t know any better, I can see them being ok with getting custom fitted orthotics for that price… maybe… if they have nothing better to do with $480.
Two things really bothered me here.
- My wife needs arch support, so the week prior, she went to the SAME foot doctor and got orthotics…FOR FREE! We have different healthcare insurance, clearly her’s is way better! I am jumping on that during next open enrollment!
- In my younger years, during college, I worked at Home Depot. Loved that job. Working at Home Depot was like working with a cross section of America. Plus you get to pretend you know what you’re doing, because you get to wear this orange apron of authority! Of course I can help you with your plumbing issue, I have absolutely ZERO plumbing experience, but I did watch a training video… how hard can it be?I digress… While at Home Depot, I complained about my feet hurting to a colleague. We walked around on concrete all day and were not allowed to sit. He explained that his father had his own business making orthotics for the foot doctors in the area. He was the direct wholesaler. Basically, he had purchased a machine, and was running his business out of his garage. He would sell them at wholesale for $50 a pair, and the doctors would upsell them to their patients at $200. Because we were friends, he offered to give me a pair at cost… it was $10! Yes, $10.He came into the store with a box that held the mold. I planted my Flinstone feet into the mold and in a week, had physician quality custom fit orthotics. They lasted a long time, but after they were worn out, I had lost touch with my Home Depot colleague.
Do you see where I’m going with this? $10 for a new custom fit pair of orthotics. That is at cost. I understand how the world works, I am taking an MBA economics course right now! Everyone needs to make a buck, but, but, but, come on people. What is the deal with the markup? Marking it up for the insurance company, is one thing, but marking it up that much for the consumer… is unacceptable.
They call me wheels
Let me hit you with another story. Two months ago, when I was first got this sprained tendon, I couldn’t handle crutches, but I needed to stay off my feet and still commute to work. I found this amazing knee scooter that could help my commute. I got a prescription from my doctor and called the medical supply company. They told me the cost to rent a scooter was $110 a month, with insurance. I knew I would need it for over 2 months. A quick Amazon search revealed that I could get a brand new, similar, knee scooter for $150, shipped for free–Amazon Prime FTW! WTF is going on? $110 x 3 months out of pocket. I’m wondering what they would charge my insurance company?
This system is broken. I don’t know what we, collectively, as the free people of the United States, can do about this. I feel like it’s a system we cannot fix. A system we take for granted. And a system that is just making too much money. I would hit you with my $50k surgery bill that my insurance company is not paying, but that’s another post…
Frustrated and venting. Thank you for reading.
Let’s talk healthcare pricing. Have anything to add?