We met with our preferred surgeon today and had the carpal tunnel testing done. When we walked in we paid our $250 good faith deposit and were even seen about 5 minutes early. There was absolutely no problem being self pay patients. She was very friendly and gave us a big smile. When I mentioned again that we are health care sharing members it seemed to trigger her memory that we’d need itemized statements for any bills. I confirmed that we would and she said she’d put a special note in our file to make sure that got done. Nice.
The surgeon put my husband through a series of tests to determine if he truly had any issues that surgery would solve or if something else needed to be done. It was a very relaxed process and we got all our questions answered. The hour long appointment determined, yes, he absolutely needs the surgery on both hands (the tech even explained the test results as they were happening because we were curious what he was looking for. It was neat.) But yikes! Clearly I’d been hoping he’d somehow pass those tests with flying colors and there’d be no reason to proceed. Having it confirmed that surgery was necessary was a bit breathtaking for me. It’s safe to say my husband took it better than I did. 🙁
After going over the test results, we began discussing possible surgery dates, and upon learning that we are self pay the doctor seemed to light up. He smiled and completely relaxed and said that if we wanted to do both hands at once, we could. Insurance prohibits that (at least they won’t pay for it unless they’re done on different days, even though that’s more expensive), and insurance also has rules about not allowing the surgery within a certain number of days after a visit, and as he said they sometimes don’t end up paying for what they say they will anyway. To hear that he was free to advise us strictly as patients and not as insurance customers was quite liberating for him. Based on their surgery schedule it ended up making more sense for us to have both hands done at once. And most amazing of all, the surgery could be scheduled for 3 days from now. 3 days! So much for thinking it would have to be in January! They had an opening in their schedule and since we didn’t have to follow any restrictive insurance rules that quick date was an option for us. The nurse agreed that not having to cram it in to meet a deductible was great, but we could take that slot if we wanted it. My feelings on the whole thing went from breathtaking to shock. I kind of wanted to turn it down just because it seemed like things were moving faster than I was mentally prepared for. But my husband was more rational and after learning what was required for recovery (not much, just a couple days of bandages) and factoring in our shifting schedules for this month vs the next couple of months, we determined that going ahead with the surgery now would best (plus the January date had a conflict already). I admit I’m still a bit in shock.
As a side note, Samaritan membership has now blessed us from both sides of the scheduling issue. Not only did our membership mean we didn’t have to cram anything in before Jan 1, it also allows us to go ahead with the procedure early when insurance would have forced us to wait. We didn’t need to ask permission from anyone but ourselves. We needed to only check our calendars and decide what worked best for us given this new opportunity and allow us to take advantage of it because being self pay with ministry backing means WE are in control. I cannot tell you how incredibly wonderful that is. The entire appointment was so simple for everyone. For us, for the doctor, and for his staff. We decided to go ahead and commit to full payment up front on the day of the surgery because the amount is reasonable. The nurse said the standard process is to get that payment when services are rendered (and the sign on the counter said the same thing), but she could ask the doctor if he’d accept 1/2 later if we wanted. After meeting with him I think he would have agreed to it, but I decided not to push the issue since I was already getting a 50% discount and they were so accommodating on the scheduling.
He prescribed 3 medications, two to take before surgery and one after. Remembering again that we are self pay, he was worried that the pharmacy would overcharge for the meds. He offered to help reduce the medicine costs by sourcing them through his office (not samples, but reduced cost somehow). I told him about the goodrx app that we use and he seemed skeptical that it would work so we looked them all up. Pricing varied, but the cheapest place in town resulted in a total of $13.69 in med costs. He was surprised I could find it that low and clearly expected it to be much higher. We took his scripts to the pharmacy and they were filled in 20 minutes. $13.69. No big deal.
Honestly, the process has gone so smoothly, and so quickly, I haven’t even talked to Samaritan yet to start our need. I suppose I should do that pretty soon. 🙂 Mostly so that they can put my husband on their prayer list for speedy healing and successful surgeries with both hands. When we go in for the procedure I hope to get an itemized statement on the spot. Based on the alertness of the receptionist I think that might be possible. If not, I don’t think it will take too long. They will still be billing us for the remainder of the testing charges from today’s visit, but those are also done at a 50% discount and I can add them to the surgery charges to submit the need in full.
Stay tuned for the next post about the need process and the surgery. Please pray that the procedure is successful and that he heals quickly.