Monday, July 4, 2011

Overcharge?



Five weeks ago while at work I hurt my arm. It is much better now and only gives me slight pain when I use it, but considering I'm 54 years old that is nothing out of the ordinary. I have recovered fine and am able to do everything at work with no problems. The reason I bring this up, is last week I received the doctor's bill from the emergency room. That night I saw the doctor for about 5 minutes. His bill, which didn't count the rest of the emergency room bill, was $603. It did not cost me anything because Workman's Comp paid for the entire bill. What got me was the size of that bill, considering how short a period of time he actually spent with me. I know that insurance paid for it, but still, that is to me an outrageous amount to charge for 5 minutes of his time. I know there are a lot of reasons for the charges that go into these bills, but I think that overcharging is one of the problems with our medical care today, and why we have almost reached a crisis state concerning it. I have no idea how much the emergency room bill itself was, because I never got it, but I probably would be equally outraged if I had seen it.

Seeing that bill reminded me of something that happened after my wife had died. When I took her in I did not have my insurance card on me. While they were working on her I registered her and when I told told them that I did not have the card I was told that was no problem, they had the insurance card number on record. Imagine my surprise, a month later when I received a bill totaling almost $5000. It was an itemized bill and some of the charges amazed me. I realize that hospitals have to make money, and there are a lot of people who cannot pay their bill, but it is unfair to charge those who can pay. I took the bill into the hospital and told the person I handed it to that I should not have received this. She agreed with me and did apologize for it being sent out. I was supposed to pay $50 for the emergency room, but the hospital never charged me for that. The $5000 was for about 45 minutes in the emergency room.

There is no easy answer to the healthcare crisis that we're facing now, but these are two examples of things that need to be changed. Incidentally, this is not a rant about the doctor or the care that I received with my arm. I have no complaints at all about that. I am fairly certain that the doctor does not personally handle the billing of this. The rant is about the billing process itself.


On a lighter note, the prankster must be on vacation or just celebrating the holiday because for the second night in a row. There were no prank calls. We will see how tonight goes and then after that, I'm off for the next two days.

1 comment:

Core Contrarian said...

Working for an insurance company I do know that there are various tiers of pricing for medical (especially the ER) with those that are "fully insured" paying the most and those that are insured "somewhat" paying less all the way down the line to people who are uninsured paying the least (which is usually nothing because they are uncollectable).

I am glad you are feeling better.