The Real Hidden Costs of Medical Care

Mo Money, Mo Money.  I cringe every time my co-pay increases. “Ten dollars, please.”  That’s a memory I struggle to recall. Fifteen. Twenty. Twenty five this past year for specialists and urgent care. That one I almost couldn’t believe and I insisted that the poor receptionist check with my insurance before I handed over the dough. I recall fondly how my prenatal visits were free, and think that maybe staying pregnant for the rest of my childbearing years is a good idea.

But then I did the math. More pregnancy will yield more children. And that’s when the hidden costs begin to mount. Yesterday’s doctor visit for my two sons cost me $40 for a co-pay, $10.00 for medication and $21.50 in toys. A tougher parent might argue that the toy wasn’t necessary. And she might be right. But I don’t pretend to be tough. Not when my middle son told me at 4 PM the day before Thanksgiving he  had a scratch in his throat, and his sister lay on the couch convalescing from the strep that she had gotten from her mother three days earlier. Not when I had visions of our entire Thanksgiving being ruined by a child delirious with fever and moaning in pain. So when I announced that we were off to the doctor for a strep test, my six year old collapsed with a tantrum that I haven’t seen since he was half his current size. And then his little brother, who is half his size began to wail, too, for no apparent reason other than he had a suspicion that he had won a car trip that would put him uncomfortably close to his least favorite hang out. No amount of assurance from me that this trip was not about him would assuage his fear. And the clock was rolling toward 4:15, conspicuously close to closing time at the Pediatrician’s, and I had promised to be there by 4:20, which if I got in the car that second would have me there, ten minutes late.

So I cracked, when in between flailing six year old feet that were eluding my attempts to force shoes on them, a tiny voice emerged. “Can I get a prize if I am good?”

“Yes, Yes, a prize!” I shouted, wondering why I hadn’t uttered the magical words before.

“Just get in the car!”

In the postgame replay I contemplate whether I would have promised a prize if I had known that the little guy was going to be subjected to the medical scrutiny that I had sworn he would avoid. But when we were waiting for the rapid strep results I casually asked the doctor to look at what I thought was a bad case of eczema behind his ear. After a diagnosis of impetigo and the sorry history of strep in the Raboy house, she decided to swab Jesse, too. I didn’t even try to save my self a few more bucks.

“Do you want a prize like Jonah? All you have to do is be good for the strep test.”

And he was good, putting aside his phobias of the medical profession for the promise of a toy. So, we headed to the toy store which is three doors down from our pharmacy. And I knew I’d have to pay a few dollars more than if I had headed to Target for the prize, but after the extra gas money that it would cost to go a few miles in the other direction, I opted for convenience. And this convenience is costing me a bundle!

Published in: on November 25, 2010 at 6:11 pm  Leave a Comment