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World's most expensive manicure. Manicure not included.

Yesterday I got a bill from the hospital where I got physical therapy for my broken wrist. After getting over the shock that I was charged nearly a grand for just four therapy sessions that I thought were completely covered by my insurance, I looked at the line items and reeled in even deeper disbelief.

Every session started with me dipping my left hand and forearm into warm paraffin. My occupational therapist would then wrap the waxy arm in a towel and a heating pad and leave me alone for ten minutes while he caught up on his patient charts or updated his Facebook status or whatever.* The purpose of the wax dip was to warm up the soft tissues in my arm for the stretching, massaging and contorting to come. And it also left my hand silky smooth. Which is why some people pay a few extra bucks to get this done at the nail salon.

But the charge for the paraffin dip alone was $98. Ninety-eight dollars for one hand. At that rate I expect also to get a full set of acrylic tips, a glycolic peel, a scattering of rose petals, perfectly-applied polish, and five minutes in one of those magic UV light boxes to make it dry instantly. But no, apparently those things cost extra at the Sutter Health Medical Center and Day Spa.

Even if they are charging double their actual cost, that's just crazy money. Perhaps it is true that medical providers have to jack up their charges to get insurance providers to pay a reasonable portion of their costs, but $98 seems totally unfair. Especially if I end up actually having to pay for it.

Supposedly there was a billing mix-up; my charges are being re-submitted to my insurance. The lady I spoke with at the billing office was very casual about it, like it was no big deal. But I bet her manicure only cost $10 and didn't hurt nearly as much.

*This is in no way intended to cast aspersions on my occupational therapist. He is great at what he does and kicked ass at the Escape From Alcatraz in June.

July 24, 2008 11:03 PM


What the... $98 for paraffin? I used to dip my hands/arms & feet in a bucket of paraffin weekly for free (granted I wasn't supposed to get it free, but when your best friend manages a spa...). Crazy! Another reason I'm pretty damn happy to be a Canadian!