Hospital Emergency Sign

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,

NYU Langone hospitals bill

Jeanne Pinder

Jeanne Pinder  is the founder and CEO of ClearHealthCosts. She worked at The New York Times for almost 25 years as a reporter, editor and human resources executive, then volunteered for a buyout and founded...