Getting Lost in the Labyrinth of Medical Bills
Ask Jean Poole, a medical billing advocate, about her work helping people navigate the bewildering world of medical bills and insurance claims, and the stories pour out. There’s the client who was billed almost $11,000 for an 11-minute hand surgery. The cancer patient who was charged $9,550.40 for a round of chemotherapy he never received.
And then, there’s the tale of the woman who came to Ms. Poole with a large rolling suitcase stuffed with bills for her 68-year-old husband, who had gone to the emergency room after he fell getting out of bed. The hospital’s doctors discovered a series of problems — kidney failure, blood and urinary tract infections, and a blood clot. Ultimately, he ended up staying in the hospital for two months and being transferred to a nursing home for rehabilitation.
Though the couple had two insurance policies — one through Medicare and a secondary policy at Blue Cross Blue Shield — they still received more than $25,000 in medical bills and another $65,000 from the nursing home. And some of them threatened collections if they weren’t paid within days....
Read it all
(another from the long queue of should-have-already-been-posted material).
Filed under: * Culture-Watch
Health & Medicine
* Economics, Politics
Posted July 17, 2012 at 6:28 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]
Registered members must log in to comment.
1. Archer_of_the_Forest wrote:
While I am not in favor of socialized medicine, I’m not in favor of this nutter system either.
July 17, 9:13 am | [comment link]
2. Yebonoma wrote:
Anybody think that government involvement in the medical system might be the problem with this insanity. My wife was in a Catholic hospital recently for 4 hours. The outpatient surgery actually took about 30 minutes. The bill, just for the hospital, was almost $20,000. Being a CPA, I would love to see their cost accounting system’s data and its cost loading factors that account for what amounts to a $40,000 per hour charge to utilize an outpatient surgery facility.
My sense is that the underlying factor is the same government insanity that gave us $1,000 toilet seats on military transport planes.
July 17, 9:57 am | [comment link]
3. David Keller wrote:
Agreed with #s 1 and 2. But this article is the biggest left wing ploy of all time. We have individuals who have been run over by the system, so we say, if you are against Obamacare you hate these people. Those two things don’t correlate. Telling individual stories is cute, but doesn’t solve the problem. There is a global problem with the American Medical system. You can’t fix a mega problem by looking at micro data. So far Obamacare is trying to fix access when you can look at this article and see access wasn’t a problem; these folks got immediate care. Cost is the problem; which Obamacre not only does not address, it will make it worse, by creating scarcity.
July 17, 10:17 am | [comment link]
4. Archer_of_the_Forest wrote:
No. 3, I hate when politicians use this device in debates…
“Let me tell you about Emma, she’s a 137 year old great, great, great grandmother whose left arm got bitten off by a shark after getting laid off from her job of ironing clothes for 17 hours a day. Now she has lupus and ebola virus and the subsequent medical bills ar greater than the GNP of Turkey and Australian combined, only to have members of the other Political party burn down her house…”
July 17, 10:23 am | [comment link]
5. In Texas wrote:
Just think what kind of mess you will have when the government starts billing people, and the paperwork, and the denial of service because you did not use a pink pen to dot the “i"s on a form as specified in an obscure regulation only published in the Federal Register, and so on. Further, the 68 year old man with the large number of major medical problems would be denied most treatment because of the expense, his level of contribution to society is not the same as a 21 year old, and the medical review panel said so.
July 17, 10:35 am | [comment link]
6. Sarah wrote:
Any part of “reform” that doesn’t address the fact that we don’t have a free market—and thus the free market’s price pressure—in the healthcare industry is hopeless.
Sure—if we all owe 300K in medical bills, we’re in heap big trouble. There’s not a one of us who’s going to be “happy” if we owe half a million dollars to somebody.
So you’ve got to address the fact that we have a HUGE medical industry “bubble” just as we did with the housing bubble. And the government continues to further inflate the bubble with its larded up policies, mandates, regulations, and more.
Until the cost of delivering healthcare is addressed—through free market reforms—all the “strategery” to deal with this is so much sturm und drang.
July 17, 10:50 am | [comment link]
7. David Keller wrote:
# 4 and 5—Yep.
July 17, 10:50 am | [comment link]
8. Scatcatpdx wrote:
I agree with others the issue is partly to blame by an over regulated government managed healthcare system. As for the 68 year old mention in the article I wonder how he would fare under a NHS type of system, he would get care under the Liverpool protocol.
Still I believe one problem not addressed is personal responsibility. Some time ago, I read a similar story of a person who was facing monumental hospital bills due insurance only paying for outpatient care. This was the same temp plain I rejected after careful study of the policy. The problem is people throw down the money and never bother to read the policy. If one is in economic distress or have no savings, they have no business getting into a high deductable plan in the first place it is time for bet tightening: sell one car, cut the cable bill, don’t eat out often. It is better to pay more now for a low deductable plan now than big hospital bill later.
July 17, 2:21 pm | [comment link]
I believe in a two tier solution involving free market reformed along with personal responsibility. This includes reducing regulation and moving health insurance away from employment to individually purchased plan in a free market system. At the same time we need to act more responsibility, putting necessities over luxury, we need to think good and hard to put saving $150 a month over $150 a month cable bill, used care over $175 a month new car lease, and eating in over eating out. Do one really need to spend $4000 on Tv instead of saving that $4000 plus interest paid for future healthcare cost. A average person could save 50,000 or more in 20 years winch could go into getting a higher deductible healthcare plan and pay for long term insurance.
It is not enough for us to save more money but we need to be shrew consumers. I bet those who are in trouble never bother to completely read line by line what and how much the plan will cover until they find out about it the hard way. Going back the person who in trouble, the article mentions the health plan is the same one I read earlier that only covers $3000 in doctors office visits. I eventually found one that was comprehensive plan that cover new condition for 3 years. In addition I always ask my doctor is a test really needs to be done. There were time I forgone or passed on test to later. A person who needs cheap insurance should not buy a prepaid doctors office plan but perhaps look into catastrophic plan that cover hospital treatment and pay out of pocket for routine care. It is better to arrange a payment pal for $800 care than $120,000 hospital stay.
9. Big Vicar wrote:
Obamacare does not mandate nor guarantee medical care. Instead, it mandates/guarantees medical insurance. There is a difference… a massive expensive and frightening difference.
July 17, 3:21 pm | [comment link]
10. Paula Loughlin wrote:
Thanks Big Vicar, I have tried explaining to some Obamacare zealots that access to health insurance does not necessarily equal access to health care.
July 17, 5:04 pm | [comment link]
11. magnolia wrote:
2. the plain fact is people are getting rich off of other peoples’ illnesses; in a free market system expenses will only ever go up; those that go to cheap docs get substandard care.
4. the sad fact is that these are real life cases, and there are a lot of them; it really doesn’t matter that someone is using them for political fodder.
8. some people are chronically ill and already on a razor thin budget. you are making assumptions that a. this person was making a living wage during their prime years, and b. that they could actually afford a low deductible policy. anyone who isn’t on an employer sponsored plan would have a difficult time coming up with 400+ per month policy especially if they had a family to support… and that is if they had no pre existing conditions which can narrow the offerings substantially.
plain fact is that most of us are just one serious incident away from bankruptcy. i don’t believe the healthcare issue was done correctly but the pubs didn’t have a better alternative; we can only see how everything plays out.
July 19, 12:00 am | [comment link]