Forbes - April 22, 1996
If you have to pay some of your hospital bill,
check it carefully. Neither the hospital nor your insurance company will make this
job easy . . . . Hospital robbery.
In December 1993, Helen Garrett had
laparoscopic surgery to remove gallstones. The operation took only an hour, and she
was out of Charleston, S.C.s Roper Hospital the next day. She had insurance
that covered 80% of hospital costs. So, she was taken aback when Roper sent her a
bill for $7400.
Helen Garretts husband, Thomas Garrett,
a former life insurance sales manager for Mutual of New York, cross-examined the
hospitals billing clerk. He found out that his wife had asked for a shared
room, but was put in a private room - and was billed for it. He got a copy of her
itemized bill and used it to prove that Roper charged her for medications she never
took. She was billed $785 for an intern training video taken during the
operation. We never even got a copy, says Tom Garrett acidly.
Roper eventually rescinded $7,200 of the bill.
Hospitals are under enormous pressure from
insurance companies and health maintenance organizations to cut prices. So what do
they do when they cant make ends meet? Soak private patients - if they can get
away with it."
Mike Jensen - NBC News - Healthcare Correspondent
You shouldnt need to hire a team of
outside interpreters to go through your health bills, but obviously you do. Red tape
and overcharges are grinding down Americans for billions of dollars a year in medical
bills they should never have to pay.
Understanding Your Hospital Bill
According to the authors of a book called
Understanding Your Hospital Bill, by
Nancy Collins and Jan Sedoris, an independent nurse auditor they contacted did 1144 audits
of hospital bills between 1992 and 1994. She found that 859 of the 1144 had
significant overcharges which totaled $891,655.81. That means that over 75% of the
bills she audited had significant overcharges with an average of $1038.02.
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