I got up bright and early for my skin cancer surgery appointment this morning. I had to be on the other side of town by 7am. I checked in and helped myself to some free packets of oatmeal and hot chocolate.
You see, my old dermatologist stopped taking my insurance last Spring. After much searching, I found the Cancer Center which does take my insurance. I went there in May and they took two biopsies. One came back as a basal cell skin cancer but they do not do the MoHS procedure which is used in these cases. They referred me to Dr. Smith who specializes in the MoHS surgery. The Cancer Center told me that he took my insurance. I waited two and a half months to get an appointment and went in this morning. AFTER they had numbed my head, the billing lady came in the room and said, OOPS, we don’t take your insurance after all. The Cancer Center had written down a different branch of my insurance, not the one I have, and Dr. Smith accepts that other branch but not mine.
So, the billing lady said that if they were in-network it would cost me around $1,000 but since they are out of network it will cost me around $2,000. She gave me the option of leaving but I didn’t want to start my search over after all of this so I asked her what the cash price would be. She came back with a price of around $1,000. I said fine and they finished the procedure. The total bill came to $1,042.
I contacted my Human Resources representative to see if there is anything that she can do for me. Maybe it can go towards my deductible or I can get some money back from the health insurance allowance we get each year. I don't know. My insurance is complicated. Maybe that's why so many doctors refuse to accept it.
It is only because I have read so many stories on other personal finance blogs, and know a few people who have tried it, that I thought to ask for the cash price. I am glad that I did. For a second I thought I was going to cry because my insurance is so frustrating. Luckily the cash idea popped in to my head and also luckily, I have the means to pay cash. The billing lady was happy, the doctor was happy and I was happy. Now I just have to squeeze $1,042 out of my budget. I think I'll be eating beans and rice for the rest of the year.