Getting personal about the cost of care

Health care is very personal, and this includes the financial aspects of how we pay for care.

Costs of Care, a nonprofit organization dedicated to raising the level of awareness about medical decisions and how they affect what the patient pays, has announced the finalists in its second annual essay contest – and I can’t wait to read the entries.

There’s the story of Renee Lux, a patient from Connecticut who received an unnecessary CT scan for neck pain and ended up being branded with a pre-existing condition that caused her health insurance premiums to go up.

There’s Melody Chung of California, whose mother underwent a barrage of diagnostic tests for fleeting chest pain and was charged an unexpectedly high bill.

There’s Molly Kantor, a medical student in Massachusetts who helped treat heart failure on a $100 budget by avoiding an unnecessary hospital admission.

Winners of the essay contest will be announced in mid-January. Entries will appear on the Costs of Care blog throughout 2012.

This is the second year Costs of Care has sponsored the national essay contest. More than 100 entries were submitted from across the U.S. The distinguished panel of judges includes C. Everett Koop, former U.S. Surgeon General; Peter Orszag, former White House budget director; Jennifer Granholm, former governor of Michigan; women’s health advocate Dr. Susan Love; and Alan Garber, Harvard University provost and health economist.

In the intense, ongoing national conversation about the cost of health care, it’s easy for individual stories to become lost in a sea of statistics and arguments. The personal stories are a reminder that this issue is more than academic; it’s about real lives and real people. Watch this space for the announcement of the essay contest winners next month.

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