Where Does the Money Go?

Research costs money.  Finding a cure for autoimmune diseases is near and dear to my heart, so last year’s Christmas bonus was used to make a small donation toward research (this is not a big deal; many people donate much larger amounts, but I figure that even small donations add up).  Since making that donation, I’ve discovered that I should have done my homework first and found a different organization.  Name recognition isn’t everything.  How is the money used?

The donation form for this organization had a few extra questions:

  • Do you want a thank-you gift acknowledging your donation?  No.  Just send me the tax receipt.
  • Do you want to receive our print magazine?  No.  I’d rather hear about research projects, but that’s not what you publish.
  • Do you want to receive e-mail updates?  No.  Your website is the least helpful of all the websites I’ve used for information.  I’d rather get more in-depth information elsewhere.

Obviously I didn’t add any commentary, just indicated my preferences.  The results were interesting, though.

  • A gift arrived.  I like it, and use it, and even posted a review.  But I said I didn’t want it.  Gift, postage, and paying for someone’s time to send the thing all took money that could have gone toward research.
  • Magazines started arriving in my post office box, despite the fact that I’d declined the magazine option.  On my tax receipt, the price of a subscription had been deducted from my donation amount.
  • I keep getting e-mail updates.  Even though I have jumped through the hoops to unsubscribe (many times), I still  keep getting e-newsletters.  What’s worse, I get a second copy of some of them with some strange name attached.  No idea where they came up with the name, and the unsubscribe feature doesn’t work.

Before I make another donation, I will investigate the organization a little more carefully to see how funds are used.  What type of research is being done?  How much of the money goes toward autoimmune research?  Are they looking for a cause-of/cure-for autoimmunity, or something else?  How efficiently is overhead kept to a minimum?  How much progress has been made in research funded by the organization?

Because I’m more interested in results than PR.

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Edit to add links to rating sites for charities.  If you know of other good ones with free internet information, please add them in the comments.

Pharmacy

Dear Pharmacy Computer:

I love being able to go online to refill my meds.  It’s so much easier than spending ten minutes punching numbers into a touch-tone telephone keypad.  There is one issue, however, that I’d love to see addressed.  Why can I not refill all my meds at the same time?  You have arbitrarily set a limit – and that limit happens to be lower than my number of prescriptions.

When I punch in the first six, I get a confirmation screen:

Then I start all over to add the others, and get an error:

Your system just can’t handle more than six prescriptions per day.  It’s been a challenge, but if **I** can manage to take all those &*%# pills as prescribed, I don’t think it’s asking too much to ask a computer to let me order my refills in a timely manner.  This is not rocket science; it’s basic handling of data. 

Instead of this being a time-saver, now I have to phone the pharmacy and talk to a person — a person who could be filling prescriptions if they weren’t talking on the phone, trying to straighten out a computer problem.  I finally got everything to where it fills on the same day of the month, only to discover that you can’t handle such a simple task.  Argh!

What Does A BUN Test Cost?

Edit to add, for those who found this post googling “What does a BUN cost?”: it should be less than $20.  Pre-paid labs currently charges $11.85 (plus admin fee).

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Perhaps I’ve mentioned it before, but I’m one of those people who actually reads their EOBs when they arrive in the mail.  Then I compare the EOB with my notes of where/when/why of the appointment, and check all of that against my bill.

It’s kinda nice, because I’ve been able to figure out what the charge is for many of the labs that have been ordered, and compare prices.  In theory, if one lab charges significantly more than another, I could choose to get my blood draws done at the place that’s most economical.

Today, then, an EOB arrived showing that my daughter’s labs done at Children’s Hospital were $477.

Um. No.

  1. No labs were done at Children’s.  Her labs on the date in question were done at the local lab, fifteen minutes from my house.  I had my blood drawn at the same time, and the EOB for my labwork looks perfectly normal.
  2. There’s only test she had that I don’t have a dollar amount on.  If I had to guess, I’d put it in the $10-$45 range.  Some tests are a bit more than that, but I seriously doubt that a BUN test costs $243.

Local lab might be interested to learn that their billing company is giving their money to a different provider.  My insurer might be interested to know that they’ve been billed inaccurately. 

I’m very impressed with the care we’ve gotten at Children’s Hospital, but they are seriously deluded if they think I’ll be paying them for work they didn’t do.  And now that I see their fees, I know that we’ll never have labs drawn at Children’s.  We’ll bring their lab slip to a different local lab and see if the billing company can keep things straight.

I’m in shock that there can be such a significant difference in what labs charge.