A Texas woman was slapped with a huge bill for an opioid urine test following a back surgery. Elizabeth Moreno was charged $17,850 for an out of network urine test the insurance only valued at $100.92.
The breakdown of the bill shows that Sunset Labs LLC charged Moreno for $4,675 to check her urine for opioids, $2,975 for benzodiazepines, $1,700 for amphetamines, $1,275 for illegal drugs (cocaine, marijuana, PCP, etc.), $850 for buprenorphine, and $850 to verify that her urine was untampered.
As addiction and abuse of opioids continues to spread, urine tests are more common for patients following an opioid prescription. The tests are meant to ensure patients are not abusing the drugs.
Sunset Labs LLC stands firm in their position that their charges are "in line with competing out of network labs in the geographical area". As urine tests popularity continues to grow, so do profits. While labs and doctors continue to run tests at high costs, payers are struggling to see eye-to-eye and a reasonable payment method has yet to be found.
Amazon doesn't reign supreme...yet
CVS can rest easy for now. Amazon’s recent introduction to healthcare has yet to gain much traction. RBC Capital Markets analysts say Amazon is “several years away from tackling healthcare’s intricacies and complexity.”
The introduction of Amazon and Bezos’ wallet into the healthcare industry caused a stir. In the first couple hours, the stock market took notice. Based on comments made at a recent conference, RBC surmised Amazon’s involvement to be incredibly disruptive but not just yet.
Not If, When
Amazon’s capital, most challenges currently at hand seem manageable with time. Among the more difficult of challenges, however is the guarantee of product integrity. Regarding pharmaceuticals and medical supplies, product integrity is critical in securing government payers. A rift in this end of business could lead to a lack of healthcare accessibility and patient harm.
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A Cure for Arthritis?
Close. Researchers at the University of Virginia have made a new discovery that could improve quality of life. And LOTS of money. Dr. Bimal Desai has revealed a switch in immune cells that may allow treatment of inflammatory diseases such as arthritis, IBS, sepsis, the list goes on.
The switch he discovered is an ion channel that manages flow of calcium into macrophages. If the flow of calcium can be stopped, inflammation is inhibited. Not only would this be beneficial in the conditions mentioned previously, but it could also help with inflammation associated with cardiovascular disease and difficult to treat neurological conditions hidden behind the blood-brain barrier.
What made this possible?
Dr. Desai and his cohorts have access to something rare among immunology labs – the ability to perform electrophysiological tests alongside calcium imaging in living cells. Seems pretty simple, right? Well, utilizing this equipment is no easy task.
Having the equipment is one thing. The training to utilize the equipment is another. Years of training is required just to become familiar with setup. In turn, immunologists from all over look to Desai and his team to perform experiments.
Put your wallet away
Drug companies are already working on targeting this calcium ion channel. Drugs for inflammation seen with conditions like IBS or arthritis can cost thousands since they’re “biologicals,” consisting of difficult to make proteins. Desai’s discovery may allow for treatment using much cheaper, oral medications.