Your Source for Finding Health Care Prices

Cash or self-pay prices. Our metro areas: NYC, SF, LA, Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston,
San Antonio, Austin. Others soon!

or within

miles of

For procedure, start typing and let it complete, or use the government pricing system described here. Advanced search page here

Uninsured patients pay more: A first-person account

Posted by on June 14, 2011

A friend came over to fill out our “tell us what you paid” forms.

I’ve taken out some of the details, and left others. “Kidnapped by ambulance” might be a better headline for this, a $2,859 unreimbursed emergency room experience (and don’t miss the $1,699 blood test).

I did know that uninsured people pay the full price (as opposed to the negotiated rate paid by the insurance company). What I didn’t know: there is a surcharge for uninsured patients — beyond the full price.

Everything below here is from my friend — who went from being insured in May 2010 to being uninsured by the time of her December experience.

Date: Wednesday, December 8, 2010
Price charged: $610.00
Reimbursement: $0.00
Out of pocket cost: $610.00
Procedure: ambulance
Provider: [name removed] Ambulance Corp. Inc.
Notes: This was a bill for an ambulance ride from Ardsley, NY, to [name removed] Hospital ER, 6 miles away. What is interesting about this is that I had a seizure at work (I have a longstanding seizure disorder), my colleagues called 911, the ambulance showed up–and, since I was awake by now, I said I was fine and did not want to go to the ER (I do not have medical insurance). They insisted; although conscious, I was obviously not fully with-it, or at least not enough to argue cogently. I felt I had been kidnapped.

Date: Wednesday, December 8, 2010
Price charged: $167.00
Reimbursement: $0.00
Out of pocket cost: $167.00

Procedure: Doctor visit in White Plains Hospital ER
Provider (doctor, hospital?): [name removed], [name removed] Hospital ER
Procedure code, if known (5 digits): 99283

Notes: This bill is for the ER doctor to spend 3 minutes with me and send me home (I was delivered by ambulance to the ER after having a seizure, something I have lived with for 20 years and that does not require an ER trip).

Date: Wednesday, December 8, 2010
Price charged: $2,082.00
Reimbursement: $0.00
Out of pocket cost: $2,082.00
Procedure:  various tests in ER
Provider: White Plains Hospital Center

Notes: This ER bill reflects several blood tests, other procedures that I cannot decode from the bill (APTT,  anyone?), and a pill. Examples:

I was charged $187 for the Lamictal pill; I pay $1 each when I fill my prescription at the local pharmacy.

Drug screen/blood test (to see how much Lamictal I had in my blood before they gave me the pill): $591. I paid $120 when I had the same test done at a walk-in clinic 2 months before.

ER charge, level IV: $834. I waited around for 3 hours, the doctor saw me for 3 minutes, they took blood, and sent me home.

My favorite: $182.97 for the New York State surcharge to cover uninsured patients–of which I am one.

Date: Friday, May 28, 2010
Price charged: $1,699.00

Reimbursement: $278.00

Out of pocket cost $0.00

Procedure: blood tests at routine physical

Provider: [name removed] Medical Center, Eastchester, NY

What is interesting about this bill is that it was sent in error, when the provider entered my insurance information incorrectly and, thinking I was uninsured, tried to bill me for the full, non-negotiated price. When they re-submitted it to Aetna, Aetna reimbursed only the negotiated rate, of course: $278. That’s all [the hospital] could collect. If you are uninsured, of course, they try to collect the full $1,699 from you. Did I mention that this is blood work I never requested? But if you’re not careful, you go in for a physical with [this doctor]  and leave with a bill of over $2,000 (including her fee).

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.