2 November 2012
After cross-referencing my symptoms with Wikipedia, it became abundantly clear that I had Tonsillitis. The recommended course of action was to get a Strep test. That determines whether the Tonsillitis is being caused by bacteria (which should be treated with antibiotics) or a virus (which should just be left alone to heal naturally). So on my way home from work I dropped by the local hospital.
They took one look in my mouth, confirmed my diagnosis, swabbed my throat, and determined that it was viral. After some paperwork I went home. A couple of days later the Tonsillitis was gone. This was my first time in an American hospital. Other than the non-stop manic screaming from a room across the hall, it wasn't bad.
A month later the bill arrived.
$1,657.27 for a Strep test. I checked around, you can purchase them for $43 online (for a box of 25 -- a unit price of $1.72). Three orders of magnitude is the biggest markup I have ever seen. Fortunately I have health insurance, which paid the bulk of the bill. But even so, it turned into a $75 bill. Now I'm starting to see why so many Americans avoid going to the doctor. It's insanely expensive.
There has been a lot of talk recently in this country about 'Obamacare' and insurance. I think there also needs to be more talk about the costs themselves. It shouldn't take two weeks of the median US income to pay for a simple Strep test.