So how much will this cost?

Let me tell you, I wish I knew. It is 10 days before my first surgery and no one has told me how much I need to pony up to pay for the whole thing. (And remember, this is just the first of at least four surgeries.)

Any day now I should hear something from the eye clinic about how much their portion of the fees will be, but that’s only them — not the outpatient surgery clinic, not the anesthesiologist, not who knows who or what will be in the room to make the cost go up.

Obviously I’m thinking about insurance and pre-existing conditions a lot today due to the House vote on their Obamacare “replacement” travesty.

Somehow, this year, to continue my 80/20 insurance plan with the state, I needed to fill out some kind of separate, offsite attestation form that said I don’t smoke and I’m not fat. Being used to just letting my benefits stay the same at benefits election time, I missed my chance to do it. (I wasn’t the only one, our semi-toothless state employees association in this right-to-work state sent out some irate messages that indicate that more of us than just me got fooled.) So as a result, I’m temporarily on a 70/30 plan, with a nominal max out of pocket of $4300-something dollars.

But 30% of what?

The two $94 copays I’ve had to pay so far (2/10 and 4/20) don’t count in that $4300. The cost of prescriptions do not count. The funky pillow to hold me in place while I sleep and the protective eye shields I need to special order and the AREDS2 supplements that I am now superstitiously taking don’t count. Only the $77 out of pocket that I paid for labs (2/24) is likely to count towards my out of pocket.

I know the eye surgeon that will be performing the transplant. And his office knows what his services cost, though they have not told me yet because they have to chase down Blue Cross Blue Shield and figure out what part of his services BCBS is even going to cover.

But the thing is, the surgery gets performed at an outpatient clinic belonging to one of Charlotte’s two big hospital systems. That clinic is in-network for me, it’s where I got the only colonoscopy I’ve ever had to have. But what about the anesthesiologists? Are they in-network? It’s uncertain. Is the actual medicine that puts me under in the general a “prescription” or is it part of the procedure?

Basically, I probably won’t know what I’m paying until I blindly hand someone my credit card at 6 am on the morning of the procedure. There’s no room in here for letting the market decide, for shopping around to make sure I have the cheapest provider (Would I even want the cheapest provider? This is my vision we’re talking about! I want the surgeon that my optometrist recommended, who, by reputation, has worked restorative miracles on people with acid burns and welding accidents and whatnot.)

That’s American health care. It’s unacceptable.

Screw this, Medicare for all.