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The Cost of Being a Patient

We all know that medical bills are crazy expensive. Isn’t that why we have health insurance? However, with my nephew having three surgeries over the past three months I have a new perspective on the matter. As an RN nursing student, it never hurts to have a fresh perspective on what your patients are going through.

My nephew Nate will turn eleven years old this month and has struggled with hemihypertrophy as he’s been growing up. With one side of his body being larger than the other it’s caused him pain, embarrassment and has hindered his ability to play sports. The older he gets the more out of alignment his body will be and his pain will increase. The doctor recommended surgery to lengthen his thigh and shin bones before puberty, so that is the initial surgery that took place in early July.

Now that you know a little back history, I thought I’d do some financial calculations. I’m not going to calculate the actual medical costs or insurance payments because I have no idea what they are. I’m just going to list some of the out-of-pocket expenses that have burdened my sister.

$45 co-pays for 20 physical therapy sessions
$5 parking fee per day for 30 days
$10 co-pay on about 20 bottles of pills
$60 I paid to buy shorts, underwear and Velcro to adapt around the bars and wires in his leg
$50 for medical supplies for wound care, etc.
$200 for a firmer mattress to support his body better

I’ll stop there because this list could get really detailed with games and books to keep him occupied as he’s been bed ridden and all the other “stuff” that goes into making a sick kid get his mind off of the pain. So overall, my sister and her husband have spent over $1,560 (plus cafeteria food and gas).

So why am I telling you all this? Simply because being a patient is stressful and the best thing in this world is a nurse who cares. Patients are dealing with financial strains, the unknown, and possible family pressures all surrounding their physical illness. When all of these competing issues engulf a patient, it’s the nurse who comes in to administer pain medication, the one who sincerely asks “How are you? Can I get you anything?,” the one who looks the patient in the eye that makes all the difference. And isn’t that why you chose to go to nursing school in the first place?

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