Image via WikipediaIn the Science section of the New York Times this week, Jane Broday wrote about her aunt’s recent two and half day stay at a for-profit hospital in Florida, hospitalized as a result of a fainting episode. The final bill was a tad under $19,000 which included $5,874 for a CT scan. I said to myself, self, this all sounds very familiar. You see, I was also hospitalized last year, whilst visiting my sister's family out-of-state. Suffering from Ataxia I was taken to the hospital and, after being evaluated in the emergency room, admitted to the hospital proper. Ataxia is a form of dizziness, not ditzyness; that’s a blonde affliction. At the end of my stay I was also suffering from sticker shock after receiving a bill for around $19,000. This for just less than a 24 hour stay. Oh yes, they had some pretty sharp pencils in the Billing Department. But thank goodness for medical plans.
Reviewing my bill again I reminded myself of what took place. We’d been breakfasting at an iHop, and as I got up to leave the table found that I was very, very dizzy, and had to sit down again (iHop; not eating there again). After consulting with my doctor, by phone, I was taken to the local hospital ER. The admitting desk took us right away, they weren’t very busy. In fact as I write this I see from their web-site that the ER wait time is one minute, so if you need emergency treatment, best go now to beat the rush. Before you could say Jackie Robinson I was wheel-chaired into the ER section, gurneyed, hooked up, playing 20 questions with the attending nurse. You think I had it easy, not so for my wife who was playing her own version with the billing clerk. My, they are fast workers there, but where did they think I was going, I was pretty much tied down, and more than a little nervous of the problem, trying not to concentrate on words like stroke, MS, and brain tumor. But they had my wife in a billing lock, fighting to get their hands on her medical plan card.
I was the ER for a couple of hours and unbelievably, I swear this is true; we were presented with a bill, an interim bill for $1,000. We knew it was interim because, at the bottom it said this is not the final invoice. My goodness, how high can it go, for a little bit of oxygen, blood tests, use of the wheel-chair. Even the pills were itemized, and what a mark-up, don't they get free samples? I’ll take those next time, puhlease! I’m sure some of the charges were made up, with all the incomprehensiveness of medical-speak. Well it was a slow day in the ER; we were out-of-towners, so I think they were charging double. That or making sure they made their numbers early that day.
They wanted to keep me overnight, so I was moved into the very Cadillac of their Cardiac facility; the newly refurbished hotel, I mean hospital wing. It was quite lovely; wooden paneling, pastoral view, a day bed/sofa for my wife who was allowed to stay the night, and personal menu choices for my stay. It was all very nice.
Of course there is a cost for everything. But when relooking at my medical plan statement detailing the charges, reductions and allowed charges, you have to wonder why health plan insurers don’t take a harder line. For example, over that 24 hour period there were two line items for Pharmacy, one of which totaled almost $600, 75 % of which was allowed. And no it did not include lab services, or even blood tests. Now, unless I am a pill-popping junkie or a complete hypochondriac there is no way José that the dispensing of my normal intake for one day could possibly come to that amount. Even the consulting neurologist’s fees were the same amount, and I don’t think he spent more than 20 minutes with me. In retrospect, I think I know what happened, and this is quite astonishing. Whilst talking we found out that he visits NY occasionally, and get this, he knows a friend of ours. So he was quite happy to kibbitz with my wife all the while dollar signs were ding-dinging in his eye sockets. And the advice from this pricey consultant? Do bed exercises, side to side to get the ear balance back in sync. Good job my diagnosis wasn’t really serious, otherwise he’d be carting his fees off in truckloads. I mean this guy charged like a lawyer, and we all know how keen they are for their pound of flesh.
So what other goodies did we pay for? Well, there were the CT scan, MRI and MRA’s, not cheap these machines you know. These three totaled nearly $9,000. Yes! I think they were trying to write-off the cost of those machines on my tab. He won’t be back, let’s mug him good and proper.
Interestingly, had we still been in New York, it could have taken forever to have all of the tests, CAT scans, MRI's etc. just to determine what the problem is. Not much chance of being triaged in a New York hospital ER without at least a gunshot wound! What, you’re feeling dizzy, this is NY we all feel like that sometimes. Perhaps it would have been cheaper to self-treat and bugger off home.
Under a federal program, most US hospitals sample recently discharged patients for their comments. Apparently, 81% of patients would recommend this particular hospital to their family and family; the national average being 68%. I couldn’t agree more and am happy to add my name to that list. In its geographic region the hospital was rated highest, by a nearly 3-1 margin, in the following areas; best overall quality, best nurses and physicians, amenities and technology. Well I can certainly attest to the technology as I think I tried most of it!
It was interesting reading other patients reviews, of their experiences at this hospital, as more than one luxuriated on the same floor as myself and described it as Ritz-like. So now, a selection of their comments.
This is a must do, put it on your list. We had a fantastic time; we’re definitely going back next year
- Mr. & Mrs. Bedstay, NY
Staff is so friendly, they let the children play on the elevators, and those shiny floors are just perfect for skateboarding around the geriatrics.
- Fred Simple, Tenn
We’s alredy bookin in agin for nex year. Bubbas loved those beep-beep machines and them IV drips is jus perfek for beer shooters! Best holiday we ever did do.
- Mr. and Mrs. Imar Edneck, The South