Letters to the Editor

This patient's experience sheds light on care costs

Everybody seems to have an opinion about how to fix Medicare, with many wanting it left alone.

My recent experience convinces me the focus should be on bringing down costs.

I experienced a painful compression fracture in the spine. Thanks to a procedure only available for about five years (kyphoplasty), my fracture was "fixed" so that I have no more pain, don't have to wear a brace or take pain killers or hope that it will fix itself. For most, it is an outpatient procedure.

The catch: Charges totaled about $35,000, with $28,000 of that going to the hospital and doctor. The rest was due to more tests and doctor visits because both the MRI and the bone biopsy revealed some abnormalities that had to be checked out. (One procedure added $3,820 to the total.)

Medicare and my supplemental insurance covered it all. This could happen again, and since I am only 77 and all those extra tests didn't show anything else wrong, I just might get to repeat the experience. About all you can do to avoid a compression fracture at my age is to take an osteoporosis drug, which can have nasty side effects, and exercise if you can.

I didn't get off scot-free since I had to hire help with daily chores for 10 days. That included getting me in and out of bed and driving me to the doctors. Cost: around $3,000.

Sharon Williams