Routing out waste, one pair of crutches at a time
August 12, 2012 in health care costs
My colleague Deb has very active kids and a pile of crutches in her basement. “It drives me crazy,” she’s told me several times, ” the doctors say don’t worry, we’ll just give you a new pair.”
Deb isn’t giving up. She’s starting handing out crutches to anyone who’s going in for surgery and knows they won’t walk out without assistance. She just brought in this pair for a friend’s husband who’s having arthroscopic knee surgery.
I called a couple of hospitals to find out how much Deb is saving the system.
“How much do you bill insurers for a pair of crutches,” I asked. One woman said, “anywhere from $100 to $800, depending on the type of crutches.” Another billing office staffer said, “around $150, I’m not sure.”
So Deb will save the system several thousand dollars if she keeps handing out her gently used crutches. And then, if they get passed along again, well, who knows how much she’ll save. Of course, we can buy our own from the local drug store or the local big box chain for much less than what the hospital charges.
Either way you have to remember to bring the crutches with you when you go under the knife. But maybe this is what getting rid of waste in health care looks like, up close and personal. Hmmm, I wonder if all hospitals let you bring in your own?