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$83,046 For A 3 Hour Hospital Visit - Why Are Hospital Bills So Outrageous?
TEC ^ | 09/08/2012 | Michael Snyder

Posted on 09/08/2012 11:04:18 AM PDT by SeekAndFind

The fastest way to go broke in America is to go to the hospital. These days it seems like almost everyone has an outrageous hospital bill story to share. It is getting to the point where most people are deathly afraid to go to the hospital. All the financial progress that you have made in recent years can literally be wiped out in just a matter of hours. For example, you are about to read about an Arizona woman that was recently charged $83,046 for a 3 hour hospital visit. How in the world is anyone supposed to pay a bill like that? I have a really hard time understanding why a visit to the doctor should ever be more than a couple hundred bucks or why a hospital stay should ever be more than a couple thousand dollars. Outrageous hospital bills are a real pet peeve of mine and I have not even been to the hospital in ages. What makes all of this even more infuriating is that Medicare, Medicaid and the big insurance companies are often charged less than 10 percent of what the rest of us are billed for the same procedures. There is a reason why 41 percent of all working age Americans are struggling with medical debt right now. It is because our health care system has become a giant money making scam. Millions of desperate Americans go into hospitals each year assuming that they will be treated fairly, but in the end they get stuck with incredibly outrageous bills and in many cases cruel debt collection techniques are employed against them if they don't pay.

So why do we have to pay so much for medical care? Back in 1980, less than 10 percent of U.S. GDP went to health care. Today, about 18 percent of U.S. GDP goes toward health care.

And considering the fact that over the next 20 years the number of Americans 65 years of age or older is projected to double that number is going to go even higher.

On a per capita basis we spend about twice as much on health care as anyone else in the world.

In fact, if the U.S. health care system was a nation it would be the 6th largest economy on the entire planet.

America spent 2.47 trillion dollars on health care in 2009, and it is now being projected that we will spend 4.5 trillion dollars on health care in 2019.

Our system is completely and totally broken, and Obamacare is going to make things far worse. We need to throw the entire system out and start over.

A perfect example of why this is true is what happened when 52-year-old Marcie Edmonds went in to a hospital in Arizona recently to get treated for a scorpion sting....

With the help of a friend, she called Poison Control and was advised to go to the nearest hospital that had scorpion antivenom, Chandler Regional Medical Center. At the hospital, an emergency room doctor told her about the antivenom, called Anascorp, that could quickly relieve her symptoms. Edmonds said the physician never talked with her about the cost of the drug or treatment alternatives.

Her symptoms subsided after she received two doses of the drug Anascorp through an IV, and she was discharged from the hospital in about three hours.

Weeks later, she received a bill for $83,046 from Chandler Regional Medical Center. The hospital, owned by Dignity Health, charged her $39,652 per dose of Anascorp.

What makes this even more shocking is that hospitals in Mexico only charge $100 per dose of Anascorp.

These days many hospitals will do whatever they can get away with on hospital bills.

One NBC News reporter was absolutely stunned at the bill that she received after she went in for neck surgery for degenerative disc disease recently....

Once I got my itemized bill, the grand total was a little over $66,013.40! That was for a one night stay and a four level vertebrae fusion surgery. The charges included $22 for one sleeping pill, $427 for one dissecting tool, and $32,000 for four titanium plates and ten screws.

I brought it to Todd Hill, a fee based patient advocate who helps people decipher their medical bills. "The screws in your procedure were billed at $605 a piece for a total of $6050 dollars. We've seen those in our past research for $25 or $30," he said. "In this case, the markup is tremendous," he added.

Considering the fact that 77 percent of American families are living paycheck to paycheck at least part of the time, a single hospital bill like this can be a financial death blow.

If you have time, read this tragic story where one man was charged $11,000 and all he had was a case of bad indigestion. Nothing was even wrong with him and now his family is going to have to declare bankruptcy.

Often medical bills are so complex and so confusing that nobody can really understand them. A lot of the times this is probably done on purpose to keep people from understanding how badly they are being overcharged. The following is from a recent article in the New York Times....

Hospital care tends to be the most confounding, and experts say the charges you see on your bill are usually completely unrelated to the cost of providing the services (at hospitals, these list prices are called the “charge master file”). “The charges have no rhyme or reason at all,” Gerard Anderson, director of the Center for Hospital Finance and Management at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. “Why is 30 minutes in the operating room $2,000 and not $1,500? There is absolutely no basis for setting that charge. It is not based upon the cost, and it’s not based upon the market forces, other than the whim of the C.F.O. of the hospital.”

And those charges don’t really have any connection to what a hospital or medical provider will accept for payment, either. “If you line up five patients in their beds and they all have gall bladders removed and they get the same exact medication and services, if they have insurance or if they don’t have insurance, the hospital will get five different reimbursements, and none of it is based on cost,” said Holly Wallack, a medical billing advocate in Miami Beach. “The insurers negotiate a different rate, and if you are uninsured, underinsured or out of network, you are asked to pay full fare.”

It has been estimated that hospitals in the United States overcharge their patients by about 10 billion dollars every single year.

Medical bills are the number one reason why Americans file for bankruptcy. As I mentioned earlier, approximately 41 percent of all working age Americans are struggling with medical debt.

And health insurance is not as much protection as you might think. According to a report published in the American Journal of Medicine, of all bankruptcies caused by medical debt, approximately 75 percent of the time the people actually did have health insurance.

And if you can't pay your bills, many hospitals will come after you ruthlessly.

In fact, collection agencies sought to collect unpaid medical bills from approximately 30 million Americans during 2010 alone.

If you don't cough up the cash they are demanding you can even end up in prison. The following example comes from CBS News....

How did breast cancer survivor Lisa Lindsay end up behind bars? She didn't pay a medical bill -- one the Herrin, Ill., teaching assistant was told she didn't owe. "She got a $280 medical bill in error and was told she didn't have to pay it," The Associated Press reports. "But the bill was turned over to a collection agency, and eventually state troopers showed up at her home and took her to jail in handcuffs."

Although the U.S. abolished debtors' prisons in the 1830s, more than a third of U.S. states allow the police to haul people in who don't pay all manner of debts, from bills for health care services to credit card and auto loans.

But why do these bills have to be so high? It is not like many doctors are getting rich these days. In fact, many of them are going broke.

So what is the deal?

Well, as a recent article by Dr. Paul Craig Roberts explained, there are a whole lot of people pulling profit out of the system other than just doctors these days....

There are two main reasons that US medicine is so expensive. One is that profits are piled upon profits. In addition to wages and salaries for doctors, nurses, and medical personnel, the American health care system has to provide profits for private hospitals, diagnostic centers, insurance companies, and for the accountants, attorneys and management consultants made necessary by the enormous litigation and regulatory compliance cost. American medicine is the most regulated in the world and the most criminalized.

And another big factor is that the rest of us have to make up the difference for the patients that are not profitable.

It has gotten to the point where some doctors in certain kinds of practices barely make any profit on Medicare and Medicaid patients. In fact, in many cases doctors actually lose money treating them.

An article posted on has some outrageous examples of the difference between what you and I are billed and what Medicare pays out for the exact same procedures....

A patient in Illinois was charged $12,712 for cataract surgery. Medicare pays $675 for the same procedure. In California, a patient was charged $20,120 for a knee operation for which Medicare pays $584. And a New Jersey patient was charged $72,000 for a spinal fusion procedure that Medicare covers for $1,629.

So not only do we pay very high taxes to support Medicaid and Medicare, we also have to pay higher medical bills in order to make up the difference for the money that doctors and hospitals are not seeing from those patients.

Unfortunately, Medicaid and Medicare are expected to grow dramatically in the years ahead.

For example, it is now being projected that Obamacare will add 16 million more Americans to Medicaid.

And enrollment in Medicare is projected to grow from 50.7 million today to 73.2 million in 2025.

How in the world can our current system possibly handle this?

And please don't tell me that Obamacare is the answer.

The truth is that Obamacare is going to take everything that is wrong with our health care system and make it even worse.

For a good summary on this, please see this article.

In the years ahead it is going to get even harder for those that are not dependent on the government for health care....

-Approximately 10 percent of all employers plan to drop health insurance coverage entirely because of Obamacare.

-According to one recent poll, 83 percent of all doctors in the United States have considered quitting the profession because of Obamacare, and we were already projected to have a severe doctor shortage in the years ahead even before Obamacare came along.

We are heading into the greatest health care crisis the United States has ever seen, and none of our leaders seem to have any answers.

In a recent article entitled "11 Signs That The U.S. Health Care System Is Heading Straight Down The Toilet", I detailed a lot more reasons why our health care system is a national disgrace. If you can handle some more ranting I encourage you to go check that article out.

I am just absolutely disgusted with the condition of our health care system. It is dominated by government bureaucrats, pharmaceutical corporations and the big health insurance companies. It is a giant money making scam that seeks to drain as much money from the rest of us as possible.

TOPICS: Business/Economy; Health/Medicine; Society
KEYWORDS: healthcare; hospital
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1 posted on 09/08/2012 11:04:27 AM PDT by SeekAndFind
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To: SeekAndFind

WHY?? Because allthe ILLEGALS that have no insurance uses them for EVERYTHING and they are NEVER asked to pay a CENT!!!

2 posted on 09/08/2012 11:09:24 AM PDT by Ann Archy ( ABORTION...the HUMAN Sacrifice to the god of Convenience.)
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To: SeekAndFind

A friend who is in medical billing says its all “software.”

Costs are assigned to procedures. An accounting program that does a straight calculation of costs plus depreciation, profit, etc... will come out with such ridiculously high outputs

Of course, no one ever actually pays that. Other layers of the accounting and billing software then have the actual agreed charges for insurance companies, Medicaid, etc...

3 posted on 09/08/2012 11:10:08 AM PDT by PGR88
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To: SeekAndFind

It’s cost shifting - her bill is higher to pay for those who do not pay.

4 posted on 09/08/2012 11:11:46 AM PDT by tbw2
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To: SeekAndFind

Let the government fix it. They really know how to turn businesses around.

5 posted on 09/08/2012 11:12:46 AM PDT by Tennessean4Bush (An optimist believes we live in the best of all possible worlds. A pessimist fears this is true.)
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To: SeekAndFind

One change fixes it all. Loser pays and the suing attorney has a 33% stake in the suit.

6 posted on 09/08/2012 11:13:47 AM PDT by EQAndyBuzz (ABO 2012)
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To: SeekAndFind
I have a very simple answer, and a very simple solution.

The reason for these costs is: third party payer

The solution is easier: pay for your own normal costs, but maintain catastrophic insurance... and if everybody had to pull it out of their pockets, they would know the true costs and raise hell...


7 posted on 09/08/2012 11:17:19 AM PDT by WVKayaker (I'm more than happy to be Obama's "enemy of the week" - Sarah Palin)
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To: EQAndyBuzz

Strict loser pays is a horrible system. It’s essentially a shield against suit for anyone with deep pockets. In Texas, we’ve done it right. If you lose a lawsuit AND it’s deemed to have been frivolous, loser pays. If you lose a lawsuit and it’s not frivolous, meaning that a trial was deemed legitimately necessary to weigh the merits, then the loser pays nothing, as it should be.

8 posted on 09/08/2012 11:20:21 AM PDT by Melas (u)
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To: WVKayaker

When the government got involved with Medicaid and Medicare and started messing with market forces, that’s when it all went downhill.

9 posted on 09/08/2012 11:20:31 AM PDT by dfwgator (I'm voting for Ryan and that other guy.)
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To: Ann Archy husband is going in for outpatient plastic surgery on Monday to remove 4 skin cancer lesions..he’s had skin cancer before but last time a dermatologist removed & insurance covered but this time since plastic surgery involved, $1200 out of pocket. Using plastic surgeon this time because 2 are located on his face.We confirmed that they’re billing as medical rather than cosmetic & they basically said it’s the insurance on why cost is so high..

10 posted on 09/08/2012 11:21:29 AM PDT by rainee
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To: SeekAndFind

Because those of us who can pay subsidize those who don’t as well as drugs for the world.

US drug consumers pay for poor around the world to get drugs cheaper

sad irony...most can’t afford even that we subsidize

that and because health insurance is now medical care period when it used to be just for major medical

11 posted on 09/08/2012 11:21:41 AM PDT by wardaddy (this white hair don't cover up my redneck......)
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To: SeekAndFind

IMHO, why the high bills

- lawyer tax - having to pay the dr’s liability insurnce
- illegal tax - pay for the illegals who rack up medical bills

12 posted on 09/08/2012 11:23:12 AM PDT by CORedneck
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To: SeekAndFind

One of the big problems is lack of transparency on pricing. It would be like if walked into a McDonald’s where there no prices on the board and they rang you up for a $500 Big Mac after you ordered. Nobody asks how much will this cost before they ask for a procedure nor do hospitals post any prices for treatments so people can make rational care decisions.

13 posted on 09/08/2012 11:23:23 AM PDT by garbanzo (It's the end of the world as we know it and I feel fine)
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To: rainee; Travis McGee
a friend of mine used that chemo cream for pre melanoma lesions, they didn't want to cut fearing scarring

it soaks in and then hits all abnormal skin cells over the whole body

it is amazing stuff but makes ya sick as hell and the lesions go bananas...looks like post Nagasaki burns everywhere there is anything

it is a reminder to go ahead and get pre cancerous little basal cells zotted first chance before they grow and it gets deadly or expensive

good luck

my buddy was a charter captain in the Gulf for decades and had skin tone like a Swede..ripe for all that skin stuff

I had a blue mole on my shoulder last month, my wife's botox doc just froze it off and cultured it...nothing

14 posted on 09/08/2012 11:26:56 AM PDT by wardaddy (this white hair don't cover up my redneck......)
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To: dfwgator
When the government got involved with Medicaid and Medicare and started messing with market forces, that’s when it all went downhill.

What you said! Everything they touch turns to crap.

15 posted on 09/08/2012 11:26:56 AM PDT by Marathoner (DNC: Fluke, Clinton, Warren: The slut, the pimp and paleface)
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To: SeekAndFind

I always just assumed the costs were so high because so many people, legally and illegally here are required to be given medical care, and have no intention of paying for it.

16 posted on 09/08/2012 11:32:31 AM PDT by andyk (I have sworn...eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man.)
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To: SeekAndFind

Since most patients do not pay out of pocket there is surprise but little outrage when they get the bill. Whether it be insurance or govt the third party payer system creates no incentive to hold down costs and even encourages their growth. If you look at medicine the only areas of real cost competition are elective cosmetic surgery, lasik surgery, and veterinary medicine. Why does competition exist in these? Because there are few if any third party payment systems in these areas, and no govt payments.

17 posted on 09/08/2012 11:34:06 AM PDT by xkaydet65
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To: SeekAndFind
The 'World Health Organization' ranks the countries of the world in general health, and while our per capita health cost is double the next higher country, we rank 72nd in general health.
18 posted on 09/08/2012 11:34:15 AM PDT by layman (Card Carrying Infidel)
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To: SeekAndFind
95% of that bill was for the anti-venom shots...
19 posted on 09/08/2012 11:36:46 AM PDT by Chode (American Hedonist - *DTOM* -ww- NO Pity for the LAZY)
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To: SeekAndFind

Many years ago, my daughter had an emergency appendectomy. I accused the hospital of performing the surgery at the civic auditorium....... cuz their facility wasn’t big enough to hold all the people who sent me bills.

20 posted on 09/08/2012 11:41:39 AM PDT by umgud (No Rats, No Rino's)
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