ACL Diary: Embrace the Brace

Warning: Contains foul language
At Willow’s pre-op appointment with Dr. Tucker, one of his assistants fitted her for the brace that would become a big part of her support system for the first stage of her post-op experience.

It’s an uncomplicated device made partly of Velcro and plastic, but primarily of black, foamy material, on a par with a 7mm wetsuit, yet not quite as dense. Fitting her took less than five minutes. “How tall are you?” they asked. From there it was as easy as one, two, three.

Two minutes later, a nurse came into the exam room and told us our insurance didn’t cover the cost of the brace—for some reason she may as well have stated in Mandarin for as much sense as it made to me. “It’s unfortunate,” she said, “because the price on this is $915.”

NINE-HUNDRED and FIFTEEN flippin’ DOLLARS?

The DonJoy IROM brace may be the Cadillac of post-operative knee braces, but come on! Of course, I realized this was an exorbitant markup and later, I went online to do a little research about these braces. Not one came close to the nine-hundred dollar mark. WTF?

It only took one “you gotta be kidding me,” comment said loudly enough for everyone in the building to hear, when someone suggested we use the self-pay option instead of dealing with the insurance company. “If you self-pay, the price goes down to $150.” Again, WTF?

After I tried to swallow this unbelievable discrepancy in price, I hobbled out of the office along side my injured daughter and, for about thirty seconds, allowed myself (for the first time) to actually think about what this ordeal was going to cost our family.

Lest this become a rant about the cost of health care in this country OR the fucked up insurance industry all of us who (think we) can afford health insurance has to deal with, I’ll get back to my original theme and EMBRACE the experience for what it is.

ACL buddies: Willow, showing off her brace;
Shelley, showing off her healing wounds

Our daughter was injured, and no matter what it takes, we’re going to do what we can to heal her. (I reserve the right to freak out a little when the bills start coming in). Meanwhile, I still haven’t received the bill for the brace and don’t know if I’ll be charged a hundred-something bucks or nine times that amount for a device that is now stashed in a storage closet, hopefully, never to be seen or heard from again.

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