9-17-10 Friday

Status: 9.0/10.  Feeling just fine, thank you.  

Events:  A good day at home.   Lisa’s working, and the kids are at school.

Comments:  I was surprised but not shocked when we received the bill for my first hospitalization, which totaled a cool $250,000. The second hospitalization was just a little less, and the week I spent in the hospital for sepsis probably ran about $50,000.

 What did shock me was how much my outpatient visits for blood work and transfusions cost.  A short visit for blood drawing and platelet transfusion runs about $5200, and I’ve had quite a number of those.

 The latest charge for my newest oral medicine ($1,800 a week) was not authorized by our insurance company.  We are appealing that decision, but, of course, I’m going to keep taking it.  I called the Hopkins pharmacy, and I asked them if they could possibly mail it to me, since we didn’t want to make a 2-hour trip to Baltimore just to pick up a prescription.  The pharmacist laughed and said, “Dr. Dan, for that much we’ll walk it to your house.”  I told them FedEx would work just fine.

 Although my situation is at the extreme, I keep thinking about all the folks without health insurance or without adequate coverage and what a life-threatening illness would do to them.  There’s enough stress in all of this without adding financial worries.

 I hope your year is free of worries and wish you the blessings of good health.  For those of you celebrating this weekend, I wish you an easy fast.  I’ll talk to you on Monday.




10 Responses to “”

  1. Darya Nasr Says:

    Dear Bruce,
    We keep reading about your improving health with much joy and relief. Saw Lisa at BTS last night. Looking forward to seeing you at the next event, and the next one….
    I do go to Baltimore on a regular basis, so should you ever need an urgent supply of drugs, I can be your messenger 🙂
    Take good care,

  2. Beth Says:


    Wow….sticker shock! Glad the financial end is not an additional worry for you and you are able to focus on your well being.

    I continue to send you prayers for healing. I think of you often and wish you well.

    Many blessings for a Sweet and Healthy New Year for you and your family.

    Beth in Atlanta

  3. Ed Baker Says:

    L’shanah Tovah Bruce. May you and your family be inscribed in the book of life….

  4. joel steinberg Says:

    And from us, too: L’shanah tovah. And a single shot of Neupogen normally costs $220 (X7 per cycle X8 cycles=$12,320). And that’s as a home injection. If you have to go to the hospital it’s more, of course. One basic problem with the cost of the new biologic drugs (targeted chemotherapy, immune system modifiers, blood boosters, etc., etc.) is the cost of production. Most have to be manufactured under extremely stringent antiseptic conditions, necessitating the construction and use of specially dedicated plants which both limits the ability to really mass-produce these drugs and imposes a rather high irreducible minimum in production cost. To say nothing about the costs of R and D. One reason health care is so costly in the USA is that we actually CAN and do spend money on this sort of thing. In many parts of the world it simply wouldn’t be done at all. I used to say that neurosurgery is a societal luxury; again, something not much done in large parts of the world. But we are sure glad we live in THIS part of the world; if we didn’t we wouldn’t be here at all. Keep us posted on your progress. Joel and Margaret S.

  5. Judi Golding-Baker Says:

    My dear Bruce

    L’shanah Tovah to you and Lisa, Rachel and Ethan. May the year ahead be one of healing and strength — and more “status: #9.0 – feeling just fine”

    With much love

  6. wendy Says:

    B- we could talk all day about those patients who rely on state plans like Medi-cal and if they are lucky medicare and medi-cal. Now with the new bundling system, it appears that it’s going to get more difficult for patients who don’t have or can’t afford to keep commercial plans. I deal with patients all day long on dialysis who are choosing between food, roof over their head and medications. Having end stage renal disease, living on less that $1000 per month sometimes as little as $500 and trying to pay for the “renal diet that is restrictive, specific & requires high protein food. Sent a patient recently to the food bank because the “local support agencies” are short on $ assistance for food coupons, and she reported to me today, that she can’t eat what food banks give out… all “No No’s” on a renal diet.

    so when I go home at nite I thank God each and every day and nite that I am not one of my patients…

    So I pray for all of you and all who read this blog that you have a life filled with love , laughter, good health and the best of insurance. Plan ahead.. we will all get old and sick at some time in our lives. And for those who haven’t thought about it… please get an advance directive or power of attorney for healthcare. That’s a significant document that aids you in your time of need, and without one at that critical time, present a major stressor for your family and many problems for your healthcare decisions and treatment. This document doesn’t cost anything and you don’t need an attorney or notary. If you can’t find one, I’ll be glad to provide. best to all, wendy dan

  7. Laurie Samuels Says:


    Sat in front of your parents last night at Kol Nidre. I was so happy to have them in the row behind me… It felt as though they were there because Helen and Henry couldn’t be with us… Nice! Harry and I are wishing you a year of good health, much happiness, and love of family and friends………. Laurie

    thank goodness for health insurance…..

  8. Daniel and Wendy Says:

    Hi Bruce:
    Very happy you’re feeling well!
    Is the non-covered drug experimental? Wondering why it’s not approved by the insur. co.? Did approved drugs not work as effectively. At worst, hopefully you don’t have to take it for a long period.

    Happy New Year to you and Lisa and Rachel and Ethan. We’re thinking of you guys everyday.


  9. wendy Says:

    most of my patients get their ” none authorized drugs” -pre authorized..and approved and the dr’s fix that little problem.. make sure they are the ones arguing your case…

  10. Bill Schaffner Says:


    You may have defined an investigative journalism project for your in-house investigator. Why does your simple out-patient visit for straight forward care cost so much?

    Indeed, why are your in-patient charges so extraordinarliy high?

    Would international comparisons shed some light? What are the comparable charges/costs in the UK, Germany, Japan or Canada?

    In the meantime, we all are grateful for the medical insurance (“health” insurance is a misnomer) we have and even more grateful for your well-being.



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