Video 3 Transcript and Hyperlinks.
Videos 1 and 2 are the introduction to what the Save Your Heart Campaign wants to accomplish - helping you and your health care providers stop your heart attack before it happens. If you haven’t watched them yet, I recommend that you do.
Since we started the Campaign on July 1, 2022, about 103,572 Americans have had a first heart attack which has been considered largely preventable for over a decade. The total economic burden so far is $63 billion.
This video number 3 is for employers and older adult employees: why you should demand your health insurance to pay for the $100 coronary calcium scoring test.
I am sure you will agree with me that spending $100 for a calcium scoring test is far better than spending $160,000 for a four-day hospitalization for an acute heart attack that the test could have prevented.
There are many reasons to avoid having a heart attack whenever possible.
Permanent heart damage
Chronic heart failure
Inadequate insurance coverage
increased insurance premiums
And one that is hardly talked about is - Medical bankruptcy.
Here is a story of a 44-year-old history teacher and swim coach, from Austin, Texas, who almost went into medical bankruptcy despite having insurance coverage.
We heard several stories in video 1 and video 2 about how unsuspecting people suddenly developed an acute heart attack with different consequences, some very tragic.
There are millions of Americans with silent and undiagnosed coronary plaque build up and every day, about 1600 of them develop sudden plaque rupture causing a major heart attack.
On March 2, 2017, Drew Calver was one of the 1600 Americans who developed a sudden plaque rupture. His plaque that ruptured was located in the proximal left anterior descending coronary artery - the second largest artery after the left main coronary artery.
Drew experienced sudden anterior chest pain so severe that it immobilized him. He felt he was dying - this sense of impending doom is common with major heart attacks. Some just dropped dead without ever reaching the hospital we saw in video 1 and video 2.
Drew was lucky - a neighbor took him to a nearby emergency room at St. David Hospital where he stayed for 4 days. He had four stents in the proximal left anterior descending coronary artery - the location of his heart attack.
The hospital bill was $164,941. His insurance paid $55,840 - which was more than average. Drew received a bill for the difference - $108,951.31. The nearby hospital was out-of-network.
An out-of-network patient is a gift to the hospitals that are known to prey upon patients like Drew - they know they are free to charge as much as they want and they do. For the stents that cost the hospital $1,153 each, Drew was billed $42,944 for the four stents. It is unbelievable that a hospital would actually do that. I began to wonder if Drew actually needed four stents, not the more common one or two.
This hospital will extract payment from patients like Drew and will push very hard to get paid the full amount if possible. For Drew and most of us, that could spell medical bankruptcy.
On August 3, 2017, the hospital debt collector sent a letter demanding payment in full.
Fortunately, an outsourced investigative program from Kaiser Health News called Bill of the Month came to his rescue. There is a link below if you want to read more or listen to the podcast.
Drew was a victim twice: first - the heart attack and second - the hospital.
The ordeal had a happy ending. With the intervention of a team from Bill of the Month- Drew gained the upper hand and paid just $332.29 instead of $109,000. Case closed.
If you have silent plaque build-up in your coronary arteries, a heart attack can happen anytime and anywhere. You may be on vacation, in another state or even in another country.
I want you to know that you can stop your heart attack before it happens. How? Know your calcium score and if your score is not zero, discuss optimal medical therapy with your primary care provider. If needed, consult a preventive cardiologist - an experienced cardiologist who is also a lipid or cholesterol specialist.
Employers provide health insurance and have a vested interest in keeping their employees healthy. Some employers, especially those self-insured, are already covering for coronary calcium scoring before a heart attack can strike, and before coronary stent or heart bypass is needed. The return on investment is excellent. And that has been proven.
If we were to look inside Drew’s coronary arteries a year or two before his heart attack, it might have looked something like this. He has many plaques involving all his coronary arteries - some started when he was in his 20’s and 30’s. None is severely narrowing his arteries - that is why he is completely asymptomatic.
A treadmill nuclear stress that cost a few thousand dollars would have been normal and therefore not useful. But a $100 coronary calcium test would have looked something like this.
Calcium scoring is a definitive test. When you see calcium there, you know you have plaques because that is where the calcium is embedded. The score is either zero or not zero. And if it is not zero, it can range from 1 to over 3,000. The treatment is medical, not stent or heart bypass. I have patients with scores over 3,000 for years and doing well with plaque-stabilizing, plaque-regressing medical therapy.
If you are an older adult employee with one or more of these risk factors, talk to your healthcare provider about getting your coronary calcium score and ask or demand your health insurance to pay for it.
Let us know about your experience in the comment section below.