Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Five Week Update

There have been surprises.

It still surprises me to get into the car and not have to use my hands to lift my left leg into the driver’s seat because of the pain. That’s gone. So is the pain I had when I’d bend over to to pick something up from the floor. Vanished.

But there are still random aches and pains in my left thigh and groin. The brochure I was given at the clinic said it can be up to two months before everything feels as it should.

When Will You Have the Other Hip Replaced?

Probably late spring.

So, What Did It This Cost?

Good question. It depends on your insurance and the surgeon you decide to use. But, I'll tell you my major expenses---at least the ones for which I’ve been billed so far.

First, St. John’s Health Center was covered by my insurance. I paid my $500 deductible because it was my first claim of the year. My co-pay came to about $500 a day times two days.

The surgeon, Dr. Joel Matta, charges a flat rate of $6,500 for a hip replacement. You pay before surgery and then his office submits his bill to your insurance company. Your insurance company will reimburse you directly.

If I’m reading my policy correctly, I expect to pay 40% of his fee because Dr. Matta would be classified as an out-of-network physician. (I haven’t gotten an Explanation of Benefits (EOB) form yet. But that’s how I understand the formula.)

Random bills will likely come in for the next several weeks.

For instance, I received a bill today for the crutches I used when I left the hospital. My balance was $5.75.

When About Other Expenses?

The non-stop United flight from OKC to LAX was $340 when I purchased our tickets. (I’d suggest taking the non-stop flight---particularly on the way back. You don’t want the hassle of changing planes when you’ve just been out of the hospital for a couple days. You may tire easily in the beginning.)

Folks have asked if the plane ride home was uncomfortable. It wasn’t. Because the risk of dislocation is so minimal, you don’t have to worry about special seating or having your legs elevated. And, since the incision is on the front of your thigh, sitting isn’t uncomfortable

The airline will furnish wheelchair assistance if you request it. Not a bad idea.

Keep Your Receipts

There’s a chance at least some of your expenses may be tax deductible. Check with the IRS or your accountant.

Did You Have to Go to California?

No. This surgery is offered in approximately forty states.

The Oklahomans who initially told me about the anterior approach had their surgeries in Texas. There are a number of surgeons in the Dallas area and in Houston who perform the procedure.

I was advised to make sure whoever I finally selected as a surgeon had done at least 500 anterior approach operations. So, that was one of my basic requirements. That quickly narrowed the field.

Would You Do It Again?

At this point in the recovery, I’d say yes. I continue to be happy with how quickly I was able to resume normal activities. The thought of not being able to drive for up to six weeks coupled with a recovery that could take three-six months were the motivating factors for me to look for an alternative to the traditional surgery in the first place---especially since I needed both hips replaced.

But, I also know a large number of people who’ve had the traditional surgery and couldn’t be more pleased with the final outcome.

It’s simply a matter of researching the procedure in which you may be interested, talking with a variety of surgeons and deciding what you think is best for you.