Just now I had a very frustrating call with Apria Healthcare, and feel compelled to vent about the APPALLING GOUGING BY U.S. HEALTHCARE COMPANIES here.

About a year ago, a representative of Apria Healthcare brought a CPAP machine to my house to help me with my sleep apnea. The model that they supplied me with — a Fisher-Paykel HC230 — can be purchased online for $399. I received a couple of bills totalling about $70, which I figured must be my co-pay, and assumed that my health insurance company (Healthnet) had covered the rest. So far, all well and good.

Then earlier this year I received another bill from Apria for $295. Confused, I figured that they must have billed me in error before receiving payment from Healthnet, and so ignored it. However, a week ago I received another bill saying that I was “seriously delinquent” on my account.

When I called them this morning and asked what the bill was for, they said that it was my 50% co-pay for the equipment.

“How can that be?” I said, “these machines can be bought online for $400, and I’ve already paid about $70, so how can my 50% co-pay be $300?”

I was told “Apria has a pricing agreement with Healthnet.”

My response: “What’s the point of having health insurance at all if it costs me just as much as it would to buy the equipment myself online?”

I couldn’t get too angry at the courteous Apria representative on line, because there was a note of shame and resignation in her voice when she confirmed that “a lot of people ask that.”

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