Itemized Hospital Bill for Asthma Exacerbation

Well, the hospital bills have reached new levels of absurdity. I thought my medical bills from a few years back were crazy, but this one takes the cake. I particularity like the $1900 charge for an Advair inhaler ( listed as “FLUTICAS/SALMETER INH 500/50″) on the bill, and $900 for Fluticasone nasal spray( ie Flonase). This would be laughable if it wasn’t so serious. Ah, but not all is bad, they only charge 89 cents for a laxative pill.

Below is the actual itemized hospital bill for a 6 day hospitalization I had back in April. Mind you, this was a relatively mild exacerbation that only required one day in the ICU and no intubation. As you can see on the summary page of the bill, my insurance company and Medicare paid a pre-negotioated rate ( about 10% of the billed price) Together they paid a total of $10,018 for this $109,000 bill, and because I have a managed healthcare plan (HMO), the hospital can only bill me for what the insurance pays. In other words Im off the hook for the other hundred and nine grand. You’ll notice on the bill that the hospital makes a point of stating this, in their own words “Amount Absorbed by Hospital $109,048.75″. The implication being that the hospital lost $109,00 by taking care of me? I kinda doubt that. I think the $10,000 paid by the insurance was more than enough to cover the hospitals actual cost of taking care of me…and then some. Instead of writing off such huge portions of these bills, why don’t hospitals just charge realistic prices to begin with. It sure would make things a lot less confusing.

You know what’s really scary though? If I didn’t have health insurance or Medicare, I would be liable for the entire $119K, and on average I rack up about 4 times this amount EVERY SINGLE YEAR in hospital charges!! Oh, and that doesn’t include outpatient procedures or Physician fees, those are billed separately.

hosp bill summary

(Click image to view entire bill)

Hey, Im not complaining about the services or care I receive at the hospital. I consider myself extremely fortunate to have good health insurance, I just don’t understand the rational behind the outrageous charges. I don’t think the industry itself even knows.

* And just a personal observation.. I noticed that they billed me for a bunch of expensive cardiac blood tests in the ER. I have asthma, not heart disease. This is why I always request my medical records after a hospitalization to make sure they jive with what’s being billed.

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4 Comments

  1. Zim says:

    Oh, it looks really like big nonsense. So, You must be the millionaire :)
    In my country if You are insuranced, You have lower price of medicines and free hospital. But I don’t know, how long it will be, because of large economical depression.
    Greetings from hot South Poland.

  2. kerri says:

    Good to know the “clear liquid” they billed you for didn’t cost anything (WTF. However, saline is $11. Would that not be “clear liquid” + NaCl? lol…).

    I really wonder how these costs would differ between the US and Canada (I bet at cost my saline was a lot less than $11, and surely my EKGs were a lot cheaper, too–of course, I live in this blissful land where I walk in and hand them this crap cardstock identification card that will surely disintegrate soon, and I never see a bill).

  3. Julie Page says:

    Do you have any advice for those of us who don’t have good health insurance? I have a PPO plan, which means I pay a percentage of the total cost of my care. (I also have a deductible, which means I basically pay cash for the first $400 worth of care – I goes fast, but still. For that reason, I have NOT gone to the ER because I knew there is no way I could pay the bill if I did. My insurance company will “waive the copay” of $200 (that’s big of them) if I am admitted, but I still pay 20% of the total bill. So instead I go to my local Urgent Care Center (sometimes a couple of times a week) for what I refer to as “double” breathing treatments (duoneb and albuterol together) because the bill is significantly less. I did that last winter when I got really sick with bronchitis. It probably was not the best plan, and I ended up being sick for almost 3 months. But I only have a $800 bill to pay instead of the thousands I would have had if I had gone to the hospital. And, they know me there, so I never get the stupid questions or dirty looks that you refer to from ER docs/nurses. My pulse ox has never dropped below 94% before I go, because at that point, I’m pretty much like a walking zombie and I know I’m not going to be able to handle it on my own. I can’t imagine what I would be like if I waited for it to drop below 90% as my current pulmonologist suggests that I do, before seeking treatment. (Needless to say, she’s soon to be my “former” pulmologist!)

    Are there programs available to help pay for healthcare costs? I don’t qualify for medicaid because 1) I have health insurance (just a crappy policy) and 2) I make too much because I actually have a job! I’m not thrilled about the President’s government healthcare plan, but I think something needs to be done. I know I’m playing Russian Roulette with my asthma by not going in when I need to. Worrying about the bill should not be a consideration when you are struggling to breath – in fact, worry only makes it worse!

    • Stephen says:

      Obama care as I understand it, should help people like you. It will do away with the ridiculous 20% co pay and pre-medical condition clauses.

      In the meantime you might want to consider doing SARP ( Severe asthma research programs) SARP is an NIH funded on-going study for severe or problem asthma. The only one of its kind in this country. The study is free . (They actually pay YOU a small stipend for doing each test that they perform). It’s 3-4 day of testing plus a couple of follow up visits. In exchange for you time and effort, you will be assessed by some of the most brilliant asthma minds in the world. They will be able to tell what kind of asthma you have, how severe it is, and the best way to treat it. These researchers are on your side. They live and breath asthma.They understand what you’re going through. Plus, you’d be contributing to science to find better treatments for this horrible disease. It’s a win win for everyone.

      If this is something you think you want to do, I would be more than happy to put you in contact with a research who can tell you whether or not you qualify. I highly recommended doing SARP at the University of Pittsburgh location in PA. If you’re on a tight budget, you can stay at Family House (a charitable medical housing organization) for less and $50 per day. There are regular hotel accommodations as well. The money you receive for participating might help offset your travel expenses.

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