The First Big Test...Shoulder Problem

Around April of 2017, my shoulder started to hurt. It was annoying but nothing terrible. I figured I'd just been sleeping on it wrong. My husband likes his firm bed, but mine has always been more plush. For awhile, I'd felt like I couldn't get comfortable, and I'd wake up in the middle of the night with my arm above my head.

I'd been seeking relief from massage, but that would work for a few days, then it would start getting worse again.

I figured it would just go away, and was nothing to worry about. Wrong.

So after about four months, I finally mentioned it to my doctor. I told her that my biggest fear of anything being wrong was the cost, and told her that I was ready to fly to Thailand or Dubai to get affordable surgery if needed. Hey, I'm open-minded, even if my dad kept joking about coming back with missing organs!

I showed her Bumrungrad Hospital in Thailand's website, which allowed me to look up different surgeries, and they showed the price range UP-FRONT (I can't find the prices anymore, though). When I lamented the fact that there was nothing like it in the States, she then told me about something called Texas Free Market Surgery. What was amazing was that the prices were listed on the page, and they were LOCAL.

 An example from Texas Free Market Surgery's website (April 2018, prices subject to change)

An example from Texas Free Market Surgery's website (April 2018, prices subject to change)

So this is a screenshot from April of 2018 that shows the estimate of arthroscopic shoulder surgery. The price seems expensive, but a quick search on the internet will reveal that this procedure can run $25,000 to $50,000 through insurance. Of course, you don't pay that much if you have insurance, but if you have a high deductible, many hospitals are now requiring that you pay your deductible up front before they will operate, in order to make sure they are paid first.

REAL WORLD SCENARIO: In fact, a quick search on their site of hip replacement shows a price of $23,000. I had priced this procedure a few years ago for a friend. I was told Seton Northwest Hospital here in Austin would charge $112,000 for JUST THE FACILITY. The doctor and anesthesiologist was another $30,000 or so, making the total around $145,000. Something's definitely wrong with our healthcare system.

Peace of Mind

So the end result was that I was armed (no pun intended!) with knowledge. I still didn't know what was wrong with my arm, but at least I knew the worst-case scenario. So Dr. Ikbal recommended an MRI, and she referred me to Longhorn Radiology here in Austin, where an MRI out-of-pocket cost $450, which although expensive, is a fair price.

Interestingly, my stepdaughter recently had an MRI with really good insurance. Her copay? $400.

I arranged the appointment, got in quickly, and within days had the results.