Wednesday, December 17, 2014
Oh, those spendy ultrasounds
Elizabeth Rosenthal, NYT, Dec 15, 2014, wrote about a guy who had two echocardiograms--an ultrasound of the heart. One was at a community hospital, the other at a big-woo medical center in Boston. Weirdly, the Boston one, three times as long complete with cardiologist on call, was $1,400. The one in the little hospital was $5,500.
Whew. Crazy Time!
Testing is a profit center, the article stated. Boy howdy, do I agree.
I had an echo once in the doc's office--don't remember what the purported charge was--but it was no big deal. The guy in the story paid $80 on $500 (Medicare).
One doctor said the threshold for ordering an echocardiogram is for the patient to have a heart.
The guy also got the first echo because he was undergoing cataract surgery--that is not even advised--cataract surgery is not total anesthesia. He also had no heart symptoms and was given to long walks.
Another doc in the article said some docs think, I have paid for this machine, the patient is insured, might as well use it.
This is not to say that all ultrasounds are unnecessary--you have to bore in a little and see how dedicated the doctor is to this test. Certainly the ones of babies are exciting!
I was ordered to get an ultrasound of my kidneys recently--I had a cyst 20 yrs ago. When I called for the appt they asked my weight. I said why. They said their table had limits. I said what is the limit? They said 600 lbs. This irritated me so much--this has to be a routine question? I did not get it! Maybe I am endangering myself...but come on!