Barter System.

In today’s faltering worldwide economy I can’t help but pay attention to what is going on financially all around me. Not only do I like to spend money these days but I also like to see how money is spent and what can be done to make the experience a little less harrowing for all involved.

We are all familiar with the good ol’ American way of purchasing a car from your friendly car dealer. You browse the car lot and look at the various offerings while a snappy dressed salesman tries not to notice you from a nearby window and then decides to take a walk. Said walk spirals in closer and closer faster than the starting line of the Boston Marathon and suddenly you have a car salesman as your best friend who is offering to recline the bucket seats in a non-suggestive manner. Once you make up your mind on which auto you’d like to purchase, you then find out that none of the numbers on the price sticker are applicable, but instead you must dicker your way down with the salesman to a good price, after he leaves his office several times to make motions and whisper sweet nothings into some manager’s ear.

I’m discovering the same thing applies to the medical arena these days. During my last physical (and I underscore the word last for various reasons) with Dr. Lance, I resisted his suggestion that I take Norvasc for my slightly high blood pressure, as Norvasc has a history of (and gave me) this cough I couldn’t shake. Dr. Lance’s ears perked up at the word “cough” and faster than you can say “Fire all phasers, Mr. Chekov” I was in for a chest x-ray. This experience cost somewhere between four and 634 American dollars.

The bill arrived a few days ago. The hospital charged $181 for two views (one smiling, one frowning). Some HMO contractual person took off $68.78 even though I don’t have an HMO. Naturally my chest is taxable so I had a NYS Assessment Surcharge of $10 added on.  My bill then came to $122.26 but that’s only if I decide not to pay it, for if I pay the bill I only have to pay $97.81. That last amount was only determined after I called Theresa at the hospital billing office (not to be judgmental but she really sounded like an Irving or Stanley). Theresa banged on the keys and made an ancient sounding teletype machine spit out paper (I could hear the ripping sound) and she came up with the magic number as long as I pay it within 16 days. I needed to put her name on the bill so we all know it was legit.

Now, factor in the fact that I have a deductible on my health insurance now and nary a scratch on any of my fenders, I don’t know why I’m only paying Theresa’s amount when I think I should be paying some other amount. And since when do we have deductible rates on health insurance? Can’t I just skip the glass coverage?

With all these numbers being flung about in just about every aspect of our lives these days it’s a small wonder that the economy is such a mess.