the cost of iron infusions – a cautionary tale of blood and tears

Following on from my post about the sunshine vitamin, I am also currently middle in the treatment for the iron deficiency. The doctor convinced me to take iron infusions – much quicker effect plus no stomach issues that the tablets might bring. He did not tell me the downsides.

One downside is the time. It is over 5 different appointments and the latest time I can have is 5pm, which means I am missing a lot of time at work having to leave early to get to the doctors who is in another town.

Then there is the actual getting the needle to find a vein. You would think it was easy right? Nope. The first week it went well in that the needle went in, and the iron flowed down the tube, although it was lunchtime and nobody told me just how long it would take, so I lost at least 2 hours of time that day. Plus I got an amazingly bad cold immediately afterwards, that would not go away and lasted the 2 weeks to my next appointment. I never get such bad colds

At the next appointment it was a different nurse. She asked me if I had any infections, and told me that iron infusions can make infections, including colds, much worse – now she tells me. We went ahead anyway, as the cold was waning, but she had issues finding the vein. I have very fine veins and thin arms, it is not easy. Finally she managed it and it worked, however it left me with a huge bruise at the point of injection entry.

bloodSo the next week came, and one arm was already excluded due to the bruise. The other arm she prodded and squeezed, she warmed it up, she tried everything, but it was impossible to get the needle in a vein without causing a bruise. The boss came, and she tried too, but to no avail.  We gave up. The nurse suggested to me that I had had not drunk enough liquid, which could have been the case as I kind of forget to drink when at work.

So last week I drank lots of water every day, and carried a bottle of water with me everywhere.  I turned up , both arms showing bruising still from the week before. It was a new nurse, under pressure because their Christmas party was also that night, and we had to be done by 5. She tried to find a vein where it was not already bruised, but each time the needle went in, the vein closed up. She even tried the veins in my wrist and hand – rather painful I must say, and they just closed up immediately. So finally she left one arm warming under a pad, and went off to do another patient, and then it worked. She was able to get a needle in and vein did not immediately close up. She put the infusion on super quick, and we were off. We overran the 5pm, but the doctor dropped by to see what the delay was, so I got a quick possibly free consultation to boot. For the next appointment she has asked me to get there 15 minutes early so we can warm the arm in advance – she thinks this is the trick.

When I got home I found the first bill for the infusions. It is pretty expensive, far more than the tablets would have been. Then the second bill arrived, for a similar incredible amount. Each injection costs around 230 Fr, that is over € 200 – for one hour!!!

shocked_woman My health insurance has a high franchise, so I have to pay these bills myself. That means over 1200 CHF for the complete treatment, and they had not mentioned this to me at all when this treatment plan was suggested. For 1200 CHF I could have a lot of steak dinners and a few iron tablets

So today I emailed them to express my horror at the cost, no response. So now I managed to get through on the phone, where the girl confirmed the cost as 250 – 300 CHF per time. I cancelled my remaining appointments. Unbelievable!

I am very annoyed that the doctor did not care to mention the huge costs, and also it seems even stranger as this is a practice on a list from my health insurers that I have to use, as then I get lower premiums. There is something wrong somewhere. Mind you, i just looked on line and see it costs even more in the US, so maybe they are cheap, but not cheap enough.

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4 thoughts on “the cost of iron infusions – a cautionary tale of blood and tears

    • What does on a need basis mean? After I maiiled to complain the head of the practice offered me a free consultation and infusion, but I am not going to go.

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