31 July 2006
The thing that amazed me about the medical treatment wasn’t the quality of the doctors, nor the amazing advances in medicine, but that nobody could tell me how much the procedure would cost. It was exasperating.

Get Rich Slowly » Why Don’t Doctors Know How Much Their Services Cost?

One of my favorite blogs, "Get Rich Slowly", has a post asking why doctors don't know their own fees.

I has a near identical experience several months ago which culminated in a letter to Sen. Elizabeth Dole of North Carolina. I was exasperatingly frustrated, and still am. In fact, I asked my wife only today if she would call the doctor's offices of some appointments we have (dentist, regular check ups, etc.) in the coming weeks because I know how frustrated I get.

My situation several months ago started with a simple question..."How much is this going to cost me?" Nobody could tell me. I was sent on a wild goose chase from billing to billing, just trying to get a ballpark. I have a budget, you know. I like to plan several weeks out. I don't like getting surprises after the matter.

But I believe the medical industry pries on the very fact knowledge asymetry. Doctors, by virtue of being doctors, know more than their patients. Otherwise, why would you go see a doctor. If I can stitch up that hemoraging cut myself, I'll do it. If I can get rid of colon cancer, I would.

I don't believe it is entirely the doctors' fault. Their fee is pretty basic. It is a combination of insurance, doctors out sourcing their billing, and not enough patients demanding more transparency.

So the question begs whether doctors intentially keep patients ignorant or are they ignorant themselves of total medical costs?