A kid has chest pain, and $10,000 later … here’s the bill

Filed Under: Costs, Health plans, Patients

A friend writes:

Recently saw Jeanne’s superb TED talk.. and was instantly inspired to share our recent ER experience.

Please see attached the bill we got for a visit to the NYU Langone Cobble Hill ER in November for my 14-year-old son who was having severe chest pains and racing pulse ( turned out nothing wrong with his heart…most likely stress induced).

He got excellent and quick care: a battery of non invasive tests including, blood work, 2 EKGs, chest Xray, general checkup, and a liter of saline solution.. all in under two hours.

As you’ll see, the bill started out at more than $10,000 when you include the separate doctors’ charges for $541 (not shown).

I was not totally caught off guard, as I had previously experienced “the game” of hospitals submitting initial charges then the insurer subsequently “adjusting” them.

Still, I thought the bill – both before and after adjustment – seemed high given that my son’s case was not acute nor did he require any significant procedures/operations/treatment, only basic tests.

Alas, I tried to argue my case with our insurer who of course had a robust counter argument all ready to go… chiefly: “it’s your deductible.”

You’re doing really important work.
And some day, thanks to you, this process may be fair and rational.
Keep cranking!

I replied:
We welcome first-person narratives, for example in this case about your frustration in getting satisfaction.

We post these under “a friend writes.” A recent allergy test post has become very popular.

I’d think about using what you sent pretty much as is — no name, and no identifying info but a screenshot of the bill.  Also if there is a takeaway, that is most useful.
What do you think?

He replied:
please go right ahead and post the bill…ex-identifying marks, as you said.
I just showed it to my physician sister-in-law..who guffawed and couldn’t stop head-shaking and snickering.

My take away from my son’s ER bill experience – and several other similar episodes – is that we consumers are rendered powerless when we need to engage the healthcare system as we are drawn into the opaque and arbitrary whirlpool-musical-chair-game stirred up by the insurance companies and the hospitals/providers to suck out as much money as possible in an accounting-evasive a manner as possible.

Will follow your progress and spread the word.
All the best,