One of the good things about staying as busy as I have been of late is that I have not even had the time to check in on my mounting medical bills. The curiosity was getting the better of me, so I logged into the University of Michigan and UC Health patient portals yesterday. Just for fun, I added everything up since December 17th, 2021 – the date when my latest PSA result took off like a Jeff Bezos rocket ship - and this is what I found:
Total amounts billed = $67,686
Less Insurance Payments = ($1,171)
Amount I Owe: $66,515
Now… I am not panicking about this because unfortunately, I have been down this road a few times before. That being said, I can confidently predict three things: (1) a decent hunk of this will end up being paid by United Healthcare; (2) a decent hunk of it won’t end up being paid by United Healthcare, and; (3) it’s going to chew up a decent hunk of my time to sort it all out (and this does not even include charges for the genetic profiling that has been sent to Caris Lifesciences on the enlarged lymph nodes in my neck).
Strangely enough, I worry more about other people that end up in this situation than I do myself. Although far from young, I am at least young enough to be reasonably tech savvy so I can keep track of where I am at in the process. I am very accustomed to advocating for myself after 8+ years of continuous cancer treatment. I am blessed to have a good education and I have a good job and savings to lean on. But what if all these things weren’t the case? If not, I may end up holding the bag for thousands (or even tens of thousands) of dollars.
These types of experiences are why I am so passionate about patient financial navigation services. It’s why I pursued a partnership between Cincinnati Cancer Advisors (CCA) and the Patient Advocate Foundation (PAF) in the summer of 2021. By partnering with PAF, we can help our patients to resolve these types of issues, as well as get enrolled for medical insurance plans they don’t yet have, or even access forms of public assistance that will help keep their power from being turned off or being evicted from their home while they struggle to resolve these issues.
Two weeks ago, CCA representatives met with new City of Cincinnati Mayor Aftab Pureval to present our “Gift to the City.” CCA is now offering to help patients not just with cancer, but with other forms of chronic, debilitating and life-threatening diseases because although it is an overused cliché, we really are all in this together. I hope that more patients will take us up on our offer as the last thing that people need when they are not at their best is having to battle huge corporations to get their bills covered.
Until next time,