Emergency Room Bills are Unaffordable
Many wonder why the cost of health care is so much higher in the U.S. than it is in other countries.
There are a couple of major differences between medical care and other purchases. First, when you walk into a store, you know exactly how much everything should cost. Either it’s labeled or there’s a menu from which you can make a choice. Hospitals don’t operate that way. Even if you go online, you won’t find a list of their prices for their emergency room services. Hospitals typically withhold that information from consumers. In some cases, you can’t even be sure that the hospital or its doctors will accept your insurance.
It is also true that one of the largest causes of bankruptcies is medical costs. Someone gets hit with a bill that they can’t afford to pay and the bill goes into collections. Creditors use increasingly aggressive tactics to recover the debt, including garnishing wages or placing liens on homes. Eventually, they’re driven into bankruptcy because they realize they’ll never be able to pay the bill back.
Sixty-Dollar Aspirin and Other Pricing Anomalies
Vox recently performed a survey of emergency room costs and came to a startling conclusion. In many emergency rooms, the costs are prohibitively expensive.
If a medical provider orders a patient to get unnecessary tests or marks up the cost of their medication, they can be charged with insurance fraud. But emergency rooms are largely immune to fraud allegations. Nonetheless, the majority of those who go to emergency rooms urgently need immediate care.
For instance, one woman was convinced her false eyelashes had damaged her cornea. The hospital gave her eye drops that, if purchased in a pharmacy, would cost between $15 and $50. But they charged her $236 for the drops. In another case, they administered bacitracin, a topical antibiotic that costs around one dollar for a tube. They charged the patient $76 for the ointment.
While in some cases the prices were reasonable, the patients would not know which ones were reasonable and which were not. Hospitals do not have to provide this information to their customers.
The ER Facility Fee
In addition to the high costs of basic over-the-counter medications, patients are also facing ER Facility Fees which can run into the thousands of dollars even if they never receive treatment or exit the waiting room. One woman received a bill in excess of $5,000 simply for sitting in an ER waiting room.
Today, there are many who are proposing that the government force hospitals to openly forewarn potential patients of their rates. As of yet, however, these initiatives remain in the planning stages.
Talk to a Tampa & St. Petersburg Medical Malpractice Attorney
The Tampa attorneys at the office of Masterson, Hoag & Smith hold negligent doctors and hospitals accountable for the injuries they cause. If you’ve been injured by your doctor or hospital, give us a call or talk to us online to schedule a free consultation.