This, boys and girls, is a glaring reason why everyone needs health insurance. Or perhaps more accurately, it’s an example of Billing Gone Wild, and why the average Joe can’t even hope to pay off an emergency.
July 2nd, the Spouse Thingy takes me to the ER for what turns out to be a nasty bout of colitis. We were there for about 3 hours, maybe a little bit more. While I had what I consider to be attentive care—I never got to the point where I was in real pain after the first injection of dilaudid and was checked on with reasonable frequency—I saw the ER doc 3 times, perhaps 4. I saw the nurse more frequently, I’m guessing 5 or 6 times. Two different ER techs; one to bring me the contrast solution to drink for a cat scan, the other to actually come get me and take me for the scan and to take me back to my room.
The cat scan: $13,230
Dilaudid, 2 injections: $430.00
Antibiotic injection: $215.00
Physician Fee: $7153.00
Lab Work: $2576.00
IV Bag: $101.00
Office-being checked in: $1000.00
Fees I can’t figure out: $2300
Total: right around $28000.00
Now here’s the kicker. We have insurance, pretty good insurance. We also have military insurance that picks up what the primary company doesn’t. And the military insurance company sends a This Is Not A Bill statement once everything is settled and paid out.
Just under $28,000 was billed to both companies.
Our primary insurance paid $1750.00…that’s not an error. They paid one thousand seven hundred fifty dollars. The military insurance paid. $50.02. Fifty dollars and two cents.
The most we will owe, if we are ever even billed for it, which experience tells me we won’t be: $30.00
The hospital agreed to this. They accepted less than two thousand dollars for services they value at $28,000.00.
If you don’t have insurance, and you wind up in the ER for the same thing I did, you’re not going to be on the hook for just $2000—you’re going to be on the hook for $28,000.
Something about that is very, very wrong.