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$83,046 For A 3 Hour Hospital Visit - Why Are Hospital Bills So Outrageous?
| 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 its not based upon the market forces, other than the whim of the C.F.O. of the hospital.
And those charges dont 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 dont 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 medicalcostadvocate.com 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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That bill of $83/k is sooo outrageous off the charts. Wouldn’t pay a penny of it until it is reworked. Earlier this year I had an ER bill of $3.5/k for a 1.5 hour visit.
I contested as much of it as possible to chop a few hundred dollars off. Still feel like they chumped me out of big $.
All I had was BP checks and vitals, IV, blood for labs, CT exam and some pain meds to ease passage of kidney stone.
posted on 09/08/2012 11:46:19 AM PDT
(Truth or Tyranny)
Insurance companies and lawyers.
posted on 09/08/2012 11:47:04 AM PDT
(dishonorabledisclosure.com - OPSEC (give them support))
Last summer, I spent a few days at the Cleveland Clinic...My bill was $387,000.
That stinks. A $6 dollar bottle of Passwan would have stopped the pain in an hour and dissolved the stones in about 24.
posted on 09/08/2012 11:49:42 AM PDT
(dishonorabledisclosure.com - OPSEC (give them support))
I dunno. The only thing I know is that my last 3-day ER stay at the hospital was $10,000. $5,000 for the hospital stay and $5,000 for a full body MRI. I had no clue that a MRI was so costly. And that same year I had the test where they run a camera through your arteries to check for blocks. I am just thankful for my insurance coverage and I wasn’t out of pocket for all those costs. I had the best of care, and I certainly would like to keep it that way.
posted on 09/08/2012 11:51:54 AM PDT
RE: My bill was $387,000.
How was the bill paid?
If you paid off everything, you must be among the 1% of this country...
1. Give the patient enough time to tell him possible diagnoses and explain the tests that seem a) necessary and b) could possibly be helpful
And allow the patient to decide which he wishes to pay for.
This would mean NO FRIVOLOUS LAWSUITS for malpractice — will definitely need tort reform for this.
But I’d like to see the patient in the driver’s seat, rather than the doctor’s CYA. Now you will be undergoing MRI’s for tummy aches in case it could theoretically be a tumor. Allow the patient to turn down tests if he doesn’t wish them and still be able to be seen by the doctor, as long as doc has given his advice. Doctors should be required only to INFORM and not control the decisions.
And if you can’t prove you are here in this country legally, resident, tourist, or citizen, forget it. No treatment other than immediate life saving. Die on the doorstep. You shouldn’t be here. I can’t expect Antarctica to let me live just because I want to be there in a bikini!
posted on 09/08/2012 11:53:01 AM PDT
A small local hospital had a banner on the front “80% off for cash”. What does that tell you?
posted on 09/08/2012 11:57:20 AM PDT
by EandH Dad
(sleeping giants wake up REALLY grumpy)
posted on 09/08/2012 11:57:40 AM PDT
Simple besides the theft; we are each paying for about 5 illegals.
posted on 09/08/2012 11:58:44 AM PDT
(Give me back my conservative vote; then find me a real conservative to vote for)
First, insurance is a big part of the problem . They way we use medical insurance as a price control, hospitals charge huge amounts knowing the insurance has negotiated a much lower price — but those without insurance get confronted with the bill. If you fight it, you’ll get a lower price.
The cost from the manufacturer for this drug? “Hospital markups are the other driving force in the cost of Anascorp. Rare Disease Therapeutics sells the drug for $3,500 to a distributor, which then charges hospitals $3,780.”
This is expensive, but most is the hospital markup.
The drug company spends the same amount to get this drug through the FDA as any other drug. But they only sell a few thousand doses a year — so they have to spread the regulation costs, which can be millions, across a very small number of sales.
The FDA also charges a large amount of money to this drug, even though there are almost no sales — FDA gets funding by taxes on the drugs it regulates.
But in the end, this is what insurance has to be about — paying for the drugs that HAVE to cost $3,000 a dose, because they sell so few doses. And this is why you should always have health insurance, unless you are independently wealthy.
And why in a sane world, we’d be allowed to buy our own health insurance with high deductables.
The people who balk at paying $80,000 for a drug that just saved hteir life — would they be upset if their house burned down and the construction company wanted to charge $200,000 to rebuild it? Of course not. They have insurance that covers it.
And if they didn’t have insurance, they would be out the $200,000. That’s why they buy insurance.
Patients have been patterned somehow to feel it’s not their business or responsibility to consider costs before buying medical services, because:
1) they assume someone else (insurance co., Uncle Sam) is paying; and,
2) they are often in medical duress when the service is needed, and are focused on surviving.
3) the itemizing systems make it hard to understand, and hide the magnitude of the rip-off by making all the components seem just a bit outrageous.
4) they want things they can’t afford.
If you don’t want socialism, shoulder responsibility. People should review their medical bills, getting comparable cost information, and calling BS on ridiculous claims — just as you would if a mechanic tried to charge you $80,000 to change the oil in your car. Paying actual costs plus reasonable overhead and profit for anything you buy is fair and proper. But if someone wants to charge you $6,000 each for an medical item that you believe costs them $100 all in, offer $125, and ask for the same explanation that they would be making to a judge (if they can make a compelling logical argument for $6,000, you should pay it). If you have private insurance, advise you company when bills look fraudulent, and request in writing a complete review and explanation.
That said, I suspect many “outrageous cost anecdotes” grossly inflate the amounts charged by oversimplifying what was actually included. State troopers don’t haul people away in cuffs for overdue bills — that is either total hoo-ey, or there was a lot more to the story than reported.
Today, about 18 percent of U.S. GDP goes toward health care.
In 1994 when we were fighting off Hillarycare they said it was 16%. So in the last twenty or so years, it has not increased much, especially given the concurrent aging of the population and our increasing expectations of the system.
Today we perform an abundance of hip and knee replacements eg, which were not nearly so common twenty or thirty years ago, not to mention organ transplants. We are accustomed to the routine availability and use of high tech instruments, often less accessible or unavailable in other, more 'economical' countries, even though they cost a fortune to the hospitals buying and operating them.
Is it worth a bit more of the GDP to be able to get an MRI within hours, on demand, rather than waiting six weeks as in some other countries I know? or for thousands of people to be able to walk, on new knees or hips, than to be confined to a wheelchair? Obama says no, it's not worth it to him for you to have these options. I say yes. If only because I might need them one day.
It is time to admit that the "crisis in healthcare costs" is merely another of the many manufactured "crises" of the Left, designed to drive people to the government for a solution. I believe few if any of the horror stories are fully accurate, and I don't think healthcare costs too much.
Pardon me if I don't want to go Forward! to scarcity and rationing along with the Usurper and the leftwing foundations who produce this dreck.
The entire cost of my birth in 1964 (Doctor, hospital room, delivery, medicines etc) was around $85.
posted on 09/08/2012 12:08:50 PM PDT
(What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world but loses his soul?)
posted on 09/08/2012 12:20:06 PM PDT
(I could eat it raw, but why do that when I have a fire.)
It is due to Gov’t regulation and gov’t method of paying for healthcare. Take on of those $88,000 hospital bill and Medicare will pay about 35% or about $30,000. Medicaid will pay about 10% to 20%, or about $10,000 to $15,000. Commercial Insurance will pay about $35,000 to $40,000. about 15% to 20% of the population will not pay anything due to either being a bad debt or legally required free care. Probably less than 10% of the population gets stuck with having to pay full charges with no discounts. This is required by Medicare regulation that all payors get charged the same price for the same service. Discounts are allowed but there must be a justifiiable economic reason for giving a discount to a broad classification of patients, otherwise it is classified a fraud. It is illegal for a Dr. of Hospital to not charge a patient for their deductibles or coinsurance. You cannot give free or discounted care unless the patient meets pre determined financial criteria.
Hospitals are doing what is required to survive and continue to provide care is a very highly regulated industry.
If you do not like your hospital bill, go talk to your congress person and tell them to get the gov’t out of healthcare while you still have a chance to do so.
posted on 09/08/2012 12:21:01 PM PDT
(Now is the time for all good men to come to the aid of their country. Really NOW!!!!)
1) Anascorp is an orphan drug.. The mfg will never recover the costs of development.
2) Mexico didn’t pay a dime for the research.
posted on 09/08/2012 12:21:23 PM PDT
(Viva Christo Rey)
I had a doctor tell me he couldn’t take cash payment, because some people will sue if they think cash payers get better care.
I paid $185,000 for an 8 day visit. Quite a bit more than the funeral I would have had otherwise and the nurses were cute!
posted on 09/08/2012 12:22:24 PM PDT
(I could eat it raw, but why do that when I have a fire.)
RE: The entire cost of my birth in 1964 (Doctor, hospital room, delivery, medicines etc) was around $85.
Using the Inflation calculator here,
That would be about $591.00 in 2010.
How much does a normal baby delivery cost today?
When the government started limiting the number of hospitals and medical schools and people started paying for insurance instead of out of pocket, and a bunch of other things.
Actually I vaguely remember an article at the Mises website that detailed some of this but I haven’t been to that site in ages.
posted on 09/08/2012 12:26:06 PM PDT
(The Right to Life came before the Right to Pursue Happiness)
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