Out-of-pocket expenses can vary with medical procedures

April 9, 2014 

I applaud the opinion piece by Dr. Linda Pai on colon cancer (Gateway, March 19) and the excellent follow-up letter to the editor by Julie Birley (Gateway, March 26).

Ms. Birley does an excellent job of pointing out that insurance companies are required by many state and federal laws to cover many preventive services.

Unfortunately, there are frequently many unanticipated out-of-pocket expenses for patients. Those fees vary immensely between various health care providers and can result in highly inflated rates of several times other competitors.

They may include facility fees, as Ms. Birley points out, but may also cross over into areas such as lab work or medical imaging, such as X-rays or CAT scans.

Health care is one area where the saying, “You get what you pay for,” clearly does not apply.

Digestive Health Specialists has 22 gastroenterologists trained in both the art and science of digestive health, specifically colonoscopies. We see patients in Pierce and South King counties (including Gig Harbor). We each perform an average of 1,200 colonoscopies a year. Our safety and other quality measures far exceed national guidelines.

As far as facility charges are concerned, Digestive Health Specialists charges, on average, $630, while local hospitals and hospital-owned facilities range between $1,500 and more than $2,800 for the same service.

In an area where costs seem to be ever escalating, I find this to be a question certainly worth asking your health care provider.

GARRICK BROWN, M.D.

Gig Harbor

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