It wasn’t my first encounter with the US healthcare system since moving to Canada but it was instructive. It’s time for my various thyroid-related blood tests. I have my orders from my doctor in Montreal. I need to pay out of pocket, at least at first (I can petition Quebec to cover the costs but who knows how much they will cover). I call the Stanford University Hospital. They want $800 freaking dollars for a standard battery of tests for someone who has no thyroid (TSH, T3, T4, thyroglobulin, etc). I ask about a discount. They say 40% off for people who pay out of pocket.* Then I call the Palo Alto Medical Foundation, a nonprofit. $300 for the same battery of tests. 30% discount for out of pocket*. You can guess where I went. The whole thing took about 3 hours or a little more. Most of that time was on the phone with different people, all of whom were helpful. And only about 10 minutes of medical attention (once I was “inside the gates,” everything happened really fast). But it should be a lot more smooth and straightforward next time. At least I hope so.

More news when I have it (maybe Friday, maybe next Friday) but suffice it to say that I have a hypothesis, and it involves the first four letters of the word “hypothesis.”

*I just read recently in the Haggler or somewhere that you always ask for a discount on expensive stuff. I figured with prices this insane, they probably had one. What was amazing was how easy it was. All I had to do was ask. Which begs the question of why billing isn’t instructed to offer that amount up without prompting, since we all know which class positions are most likely to feel comfortable enough to ask for some money off, and which aren’t. . . . The moral of the story: always ask for a discount. Nicely.