These Common Medical Procedures Can Cost More Than Your House

A doctor examines a patient with health insurance, a visit that would otherwise cost bundles

A doctor examines a patient with health insurance, a visit that would otherwise cost bundles | Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Health care costs are through the roof in this country. Even with the Affordable Care Act cemented into place, there are still millions of people without health insurance and millions more who still can’t afford certain procedures with the coverage they have. The sad fact is, people are going deep into debt, and sometimes even bankrupt, in order to receive medical treatment.

There’s no easy fix, either. While policymakers will argue for and against the virtue and viability of single-payer systems or less-regulated markets, everyone is still stuck trying to navigate the health insurance minefield in order to find affordable health care options. It’s frustrating, confusing, and more than anything, expensive.

So expensive, in fact, that even the most simple and common of medical procedures can end up costing huge amounts of money — sometimes on par with buying a car, or even a house. A new brief from Coyne College has put the spotlight on some of those common procedures, and just how much they can actually end up siphoning out of your pocket.

By creating an interactive infographic (seen here), Coyne College makes it easy to see how much your body parts are actually worth relative to one another. Your brain, for example, is going to be more expensive to treat than your arm. The goal was to make it easy to get an idea of how much your expenses can be if you were to injure a specific part of your body.

Health insurance may not be enough

A patient lies in a hospital bed

A patient lies in a hospital bed | Sean Gallup/Getty Images

“Every now and again, a story comes about a celebrity who takes out an enormous insurance policy on a part of their body,” Coyne College’s brief reads. “Odd as it may sound, it’s an important consideration in the age of a fluctuating and often controversial health care system that demands hefty prices to heal flesh and bone. For this reason, we’ve developed a wonderful interactive to help people grasp the magnitude of costs involved in treating the human body, one part at a time.”

The graphic itself details the most common injuries to 13 specific body parts, and the costs associated with having them treated — for both the insured and uninsured. But what’s truly striking are the costs for the most expensive procedures.

As an example, cataracts are the most common eye issue, which Coyne College’s research team says can cost $1,095 for treatment with health insurance, and $3,650 for someone who is uninsured. But the most expensive procedure? It can top $135,000 — an amount of money that can buy you a house in some cities.

But that’s just one example. There are far more expensive body parts to injure other than your eyes. Brain surgery, at the upper-end of the spectrum, can cost up to $150,000. A tracheostomy? $205,000. God help you if you need an intestinal transplant, which clocks in at more than $1.2 million.

Surgical tools await use

Surgical tools await use | Source: iStock

Perhaps the most unsettling thing about the brief is it drives home just how likely it is you’re going to need one of these procedures at some point. When it comes to your heart, for example, Coyne College’s team writes, “coronary heart disease (CHD) is the cause of one in every four deaths in the U.S. Severe CHD requires complex intervention that involves grafting healthy arteries to blocked arteries. This sort of procedure typically costs more than $100,000 for someone who is uninsured.”

This is at the crux of the health insurance and health care cost debate. Everyone is going to experience some sort of health problem — numerous ones, in fact — over the course of their lives. It’s a given. Instead of finding cost-effective and efficient ways of dealing with it, we insure ourselves in the case we experience one of these issues. Essentially, insurance companies are betting we won’t experience medical hardship. Even though we know we will. There’s really no avoiding it.

What Coyne College’s brief does is put some of these costs into perspective, especially for the uninsured. Health care isn’t cheap, and it’s certainly not going to get cheaper.

See the complete release from Coyne College here.

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