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health insurance

October 31, 2008

Hi, I’m a student.  I have limited health insurance, limited monetary resources, no car, and a very limited knowledge of the system.  Please take advantage of me.
Seriously, do we come with a sign that says that?
We’re encourage by the insurance company to go to Gottschalk Medical Plaza here on campus for most things, so when I wanted to get the HPV vaccine I went there.  They gave me one shot, and today I was due for the second one.  Last night I got the bill for the first one.  Before I give you the money involved, here’s a couple of intro facts.  1. The doctor told me it would be covered by insurance (and I naively believed her).  2. It’s $120/dose for doctors to buy the vaccine.  3. My health insurance covers $300 towards the cost of the vaccine each insurance year.

Total cost billed to me: $868
Discount: $304.
Insurance payment: $300
Money I owe: $264

Now remember, that’s one dose.  I have to do this twice more.  Luckily, the insurance year ended a couple weeks ago, so I again have $300 to credit towards this vaccine.  Do a bit of quick math, though, and if costs remain the same you’ll find that I’ll end up owing over a thousand dollars to get this vaccine.  The insurance company will pay $600, and give $900 in discount.  A total of over $2500.  A vaccine, mind you, which cost the doctor $360 to buy.  
The people at Gottschalk told me that I could shop around, and so I did.  UCI Women’s Healthcare Center, a clinic affiliated with Gottschalk (they send patients back and forth all the time) charges $250/dose.  $868-$250=$618 Gottschalk is pocketing for being a convenient location for students who have limited resources to go elsewhere.  (A note as to why I included my lack of care in my list of limited resources: the women’s clinic is about ten miles off campus and not on a convenient bus route.  Gottschalk is on campus.)
Can someone please explain to me any justification (besides being the one I’ve already use that they’re taking advantage of students) that Gottschalk might have for charging this much for the vaccine?  I don’t understand.  What I do know is that I’ll be spreading this information around.  And not going back to Gottschalk for anything gyn related, despite the fact that I love my doctor there.

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