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Back Out of the Bat Cave

Posted Jul 21 2008 10:06am

When we last visited our heroes, they were traveling Gotham City fighting the shock of high M.S. treatment costs.“Holy prescription bill, Batman!” So riddle me this, my friends in the Sunshine, what do M.S. patients do when faced with the fact that their annual treatment costs may often outweigh the total amount of their annual salaries? And how do those without insurance or prescription plans receive treatments equivalent to those who are lucky enough to be insured?(Enter evil “Riddler” laugh here).

Obviously, I’m still routinely in shock from the costs associated with treating Multiple Sclerosis. When I was once on Copaxone, I was in awe with the fact that it costs over $1,700 for monthly allocations of the D.M.D. It’s been awhile since I pondered the costs of my treatment, so just for kicks, I logged into my insurance plan and reviewed my recent claims. I was most interested in checking out the costs associated withjoining the Ty-Ty Sisterhood.

When I saw the claim amount from my first Ty treatment, I gasped and nearly sucked all of the air out of the room. The cost was more than two-and-a-half times that of Copaxone — $4,874! That’s over $1,600 per hour of the three-hour treatment. I understand now why this treatment is covered under my major medical insurance vs. my prescription plan.

As I walked around the Bat Cave, continuing to scratch my head in deep thought about the outrageous costs of medical treatments these days (difficult to do through that thick vinyl superhero costume); I pulled out the calculator and went to work. Much like Alfred Pennyworth in front of all the ancient computer machines in the Cave, I calculated all the costs associated with my M.S. treatments since my diagnosis in November, 2007. MRI’s, hospital stays, doctor visits, home health care visits, blood tests, and D.M.D. treatments covered more than three internet pages of information. My recent three hour MRI stint cost more than $8,000, with the injected dye alone costing almost $1,200. These costs are the amounts billed to my insurance carrier by the medical providers. In most cases, the insurance company settled on the “customary and reasonable” amount and didn’t pay the full bill; however, the costs are what they are and frankly they are just ridiculous. It’s apparent to me why our medical insurance premiums remain so high and why our health care system needs a complete revamping.

I’ve discussed on many occasions my fortunate situation to be covered by stellar insurance, reducing my prescription costs and doctors’ visits to Co-pays and my hospital costs and transfusion fees to just my annual deductible. But, we all know not everyone is this fortunate. Someone, somewhere, is picking up the bill.

Turn the volume up on your T.V. sets, kiddies. The message from the Gotham City Police is one you don’t want to miss. Here it comes: My total costs for M.S. treatments, in just nine months time, exceed $70,000. My medical stay, which launched this whole expensive process, cost over $16,000 itself. As I calculate the annual cost for Tysabri treatments alone, going forward they will total nearly $58,000 each year. I’ll need continued MRI series at $8,000 each, continued and regular neurologist visits (as required by the Touch Protocol process), plus regular blood work to rule out liver complications and to monitor white blood cell counts. My various prescription treatments are above and beyond this amount and none of these figures takes into account non-M.S. doctor’s visits, prescriptions, or diagnostics. 

Gotham City remains under attack and the city’s beacon spotlight is shining brightly on neighboring Washington, D.C. where our health care system must be addressed and changed for the betterment of all of our citizens.

Batman, Robin, and even all of Gotham’s criminals together, can’t make this change happen. Only we – the citizens of America – and Persons with M.S. can make a difference.  My legislators will be receiving this article.  What are you doing to advocate for a more sensible health care system?

Tune in later for more information. Same Bat Time, Same Bat Channel…


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