Transparency in Hospital Billing and Costs
I was seen a month or so ago for floaters and flashers in my left eye, in Bangor, Maine. I walked out of EMMC ER without being seen, because of a very poor and unprofessional reception, watching a suffering young woman being ignored, and a very long wait time. I went across town to St Joes. I was nicely welcomed, quickly and efficiently triaged, waited an hour in an exam room, and was seen by a competent and nice nurse practitioner for about 5 minutes, maybe less. I had no medicines, no sterile instruments, no diagnostics, no treatments, and nothing extra. I walked out with instructions and an appointment with an ophthalmologist the next day. I had a good experience of care.
Grand total $1313.85. HOLY CRAP!
I looked up St Joe’s list of usual ER charges online. My charges, on my itemized bill were way out of whack. So, even though my copay will not change ($125), I called St Joe’s billing inquiry line. The lady was very nice until I asked to participate in the weekly inquiry meeting where they will discuss my bill. I want to know what they have to say about my bill and be part of the discussion. It was obvious that this was really really weird for them to deal with someone who actually wants transparency and details about how they came to this wild price for my visit. She finally relented and said she would tell the supervisor who participates in their billing inquiry meetings that I want to be there.
I asked the billing lady if she has ever heard of the concept of “nothing about me without me”. I know that this generally pertains to collaboration and communications about our actual care and plans for it, but why not billing and costs.
After reading Rosmary Gibson’s new book. Medicare Meltdown, I fully realize how important it is for healthcare consumers to fully engage in all aspects of quality and cost in healthcare. We need to protect our ability to access and afford healthcare, because Hospitals, providers, medical device and pharmaceutical companies, for profit companies and others are usurping all of the cream..off the top of the fresh milk bucket of healthcare. They do this with predatory pricing and charging of all patients, and getting what they can from all payers, public and private. If we do not engage, our existing systems will not survive.
$1313.85 for a 5 minute visit is outrageous and unexplainable….and I want to know details about how they came to that astronomical price. We all need to become inquiring minds when it comes to healthcare costs and quality.