Sunday, December 22, 2013

Serious Overcharge

In September, I went for a stress test at St. Joseph Hospital in Brainerd, MN.  My breathing is poor because of previous lung cancer so my performance was poor.  I had told the doctor this but he insisted on the stress test.  I didn’t last long. The nurse gave me a nitro pill.  She walked three paces to a cabinet, got the pill, put it in a little white cup, came back and gave it to me.

I later received a bill for $41.50.  Trusting the hospital and my insurance, I paid it.

A month later, I received another bill for $220 for medication that Medicare and Medica would not pay.

So I got a list of the medications and what the hospital was charging me.  I found out that the charge of $41.50 was for the nitro pill. The charge for the ONE pill was $41.50.  At my regular pharmacy, they cost me $1.25 a piece.  I am sure my pharmacy is making a profit at $1.25.

This is atrocious. There is simply no way that there is $40 worth of effort to get that pill.  Unless of course that was a very expensive little, white cup.

So, as I said, I got a list of the medications that I was being charge $220 by the hospital.  I developed an Excel spreadsheet with their charges, the charges at the local pharmacy and the percentage difference.  At the pharmacy, it would have been $7.55.

I sent all this information with a cover letter to the hospital administrator along with a check for $15.10 - wanted them to have a profit.   I figured the hospital would simply ignore my concerns.  They would dog me with collections. They have all the power.

I received a call from the chief financial officer.  They were accepting my check as payment in full.  He apologized for the cost of the meds and explained that the price I found from my retail pharmacy was the price they paid also.  He said they were looking into how to reduce their charges.    Hummmmmm.

I was pleased.

This is one of the reasons why our insurance is so high.  It is time our elected state and federal senators and representatives do something about this.  They still are working for us, aren’t they?

It is tough enough having to go to the hospital.  Going to the hospital should not involve me having to battle for reasonable prices.  It is stressful for any of us.

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