Penny-Wise, Pound Foolish

Friday, July 14th, 2006
This post was written by Melanie Matthews

“Penny-wise, pound foolish” – how many times have you heard stories about our healthcare system and thought how apropos.

I heard a doozy last weekend. A friend who has long suffered from Crohn’s Disease and colitis with countless hospitalizations and complications, has been taking an anti-coagulant and visits her physician’s office every week for a blood level test.

She has been pushing her insurance company to cover the cost of a home-monitoring device, but has not been successful, with the insurance company citing the high cost of home monitoring.

So instead, each week, the insurance company pays for a lab test and most recently, paid for a five-day hospital stay when her serum level became dangerously high combined with a bleeding ulcer.

An article in the February 4th issue of The Lancet quoted a study about the improvements in outcomes from home monitoring of anticoagulant medications. This particular study found that home monitors can reduce their risk of death from all causes by one-third, and cut the risk of a thromboembolic event in half.

This article also referenced the price of a box of 48 test strips for one such home-monitoring device, Roche’s CoaguChek®, which costs about $300 from a discount online distributor. The meter itself sells for $1,295.

So, yes “penny-wise, pound foolish” — instead of providing my friend with a year’s supply of the monitoring device quoted in the Lancet to the tune of $2,280, this particular insurance company paid for a five-day hospital stay, along with the other lab visits she had already encountered.

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