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Colonoscopy no fun, but medical billing worse

Saturday, January 18, 2014 - 8:14 am

I recently had my “once every decade” colonoscopy. This (you're very welcome) is not about that experience.

My story of the actual procedure would be nowhere near as funny as Dave Barry's legendary column on the topic which, honestly, should have won a Pulitzer Prize. No, this is about the billing fiasco afterward.

Per my insurance company, this “routine” exam is covered 100 percent. So imagine my surprise a few months later when I got a bill for $800. (Why do hospital bills always come months after the actual visit? And why can't a plumber or auto mechanic take as long to get around to that fun part?)

After about an hour on the phone, I came to find out it was billed as a diagnostic procedure, not a routine, preventive one. Don't you love semantics?

Apparently, if you have any symptoms whatsoever before your test, your 100-percent-covered “screening” will, all of a sudden, become a “diagnostic” procedure, which is covered at only 80 percent. I'm no math whiz, but 20 percent of $4,000 is not chump change. Maybe they can come up with a half-price version? A – wait for it – semicolonoscopy?

I don't remember Drs. Casey, Kildare or Welby having to deal with such nonsense. Did they even have colonoscopies back then? I guess it wouldn't make for riveting TV even if they did.

(Sorry about using the word “colonoscopy” so often. The thesaurus doesn't give any good alternatives.)

So everyone out there over the age of 50, just remember, when you go in for your colonoscopy which, no joke, you definitely should do, make sure you don't burp or be gassy in any way. That's the only excuse the medical profession will need to squeeze that extra 20 percent out of you. (No colonoscopy joke intended.)

Mike Marin is a cranky curmudgeon who, when he’s not yelling at kids to get off his lawn, likes to complain about the sad state of popular culture, especially as seen through a TV screen. His email address is marinating@tribune.com. This column is the personal opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views or opinion of The News-Sentinel.