Saturday, April 11, 2009

Hospital rip-off

We just got our hospital bill for our latest ER visit. I had expected a pretty big bill, but not this big! For 3 hours in the ER, no medications, 1 ultrasound, and some bloodwork: $4324. At least we have decent insurance, so after their contractual adjustments and payment, we "only" owe $855. This includes a $500 deductible for the year. I can't really count that part because with the pregnancy, I definitely would have paid that, even without this hospital visit.

Still, I had expected maybe $700, not $855. Especially since when we took Sterling to the hospital a few years ago, and he had an overnight stay, the bill was $700. That included a night's stay! So I started examining the bill, and already saw a mistake. For some reason, they had billed for two $658 ultrasounds. I don't know how they could possibly come up with this number, but I intend to resolve it. Also, there are charges on there for pharmacy $480, and the only thing I got was 1 Rhogam shot. Oh, and yeah, it cost $1378 to test 7 vials of my blood.

All of this is so ridiculous, especially since you can get plastic surgery for $6000. Would you rather spend $6000 for that, or $4300 for 3 hours in the hospital where they don't even do anything except tell you, you had a threatened miscarriage, and to take it easy and get a follow up visit with my doctor. And this bill doesn't even include whatever the on-call doctor decides to charge.....

A few years ago, I had heard some people say that most hospital bills have discrepancies. Things like double billing, charges for things that were never done, and so forth. I intend to get an itemized hospital bill, and then look up all the billing codes and see where they tried to screw me over. The thing that gets me is that the insurance companies just pay whatever the bill says. They could save so much money by doing a little investigation, so see if there are any major errors.

After I get all the mistakes taken off, I also intend to negotiate my bill with the hospital's billing supervisor. I know that only about 10% of hospital patients pay the full amount, so why should I be part of that small group? It's not uncommon to be able to get a 30% discount, especially when you are willing to pay the full amount due in cash. The hospitals would much rather get this bill off their books, than having to deal with small monthly payments or collection agencies.

So here I start my investigation and redemption with the hospital. This also reminds me why I don't "just take my kids to the emergency room". Any time I have in the past, it has cost me an arm and a leg. Of course, since I have met my deductible for the year, I am in the clear for the rest of the year. Then, it will "only" cost me $355 for a 3 hour visit.

1 comment:

Wendy said...

Man that is really out of control! when Brian cut his eyebrow our bill was only about a third of that and we spend the same amount of time in there, just some glue and they send us off. I would definitely get that itemized bill!!! We will never just go to the er unless it is life threatening!

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