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Tue Feb 12, 2013, 07:10 AM

Need surgery? Good luck getting hospital cost info

CHICAGO (AP) Want to know how much a hip replacement will cost? Many hospitals won't be able to tell you, at least not right away if at all. And if you shop around and find centers that can quote a price, the amounts could vary astronomically, a study found.

Routine hip replacement surgery on a healthy patient without insurance may cost as little as $11,000 or up to nearly $126,000.

That's what researchers found after calling hospitals in every state, 122 in all, asking what a healthy 62-year-old woman would have to pay to get an artificial hip. Hospitals were told the made-up patient was the caller's grandmother, had no insurance but could afford to pay out of pocket that's why knowing the cost information ahead of time was so important.

About 15 percent of hospitals did not provide any price estimate, even after a researcher called back as many as five times.

The researchers were able to obtain a complete price estimate including physician fees from close to half the hospitals. But in most cases, that took contacting the hospital and doctor separately.

http://minnesota.publicradio.org/display/web/2013/02/12/health/hospital-cost-info

13 replies, 1724 views

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Arrow 13 replies Author Time Post
Reply Need surgery? Good luck getting hospital cost info (Original post)
Lasher Feb 2013 OP
66 dmhlt Feb 2013 #1
Lasher Feb 2013 #3
2pooped2pop Feb 2013 #2
Myrina Feb 2013 #4
Lasher Feb 2013 #5
Myrina Feb 2013 #6
Lasher Feb 2013 #7
SharonAnn Feb 2013 #8
Lasher Feb 2013 #9
quadrature Feb 2013 #11
Myrina Feb 2013 #12
quadrature Feb 2013 #13
arikara Feb 2013 #10

Response to Lasher (Original post)

Tue Feb 12, 2013, 08:57 AM

1. Two sources that provide at least some rough estimates ...

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Response to 66 dmhlt (Reply #1)

Tue Feb 12, 2013, 10:39 AM

3. Thanks.

That is helpful. I've bookmarked both sites.

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Response to Lasher (Original post)

Tue Feb 12, 2013, 09:03 AM

2. they don't send you an itemized bill anymore either

I think they don't want us to know what they are charging the insurance for and at what cost compared to people without insurance. Perhaps they raise those prices so that when the uninsured can't pay, they can get a bigger kick back from the government?

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Response to Lasher (Original post)

Tue Feb 12, 2013, 03:54 PM

4. I got a decent estimate on dr fees ...

... for my tubal/ablation last year, but when I tried to find out what the 'other fees' were going to be, my insurance company said 'the hospital can charge whatever they want' & calling the facility got me nowhere. Well, gee that was helpful.

So based on my ill-conceived idea that it was a quick procedure and the dr estimate was only a few hundred dollars, so additional costs might not be too bad, I went ahead with it.

I was in out-patient surgery and recovery for 3.5 hours from walk-in to wheel-out, and the hospital charged $12,000!!!!

My insurance at the time had a $3,000 deductible + 20% copay so I was on the hook for close to $5k.


Holy fuck.

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Response to Myrina (Reply #4)

Tue Feb 12, 2013, 04:29 PM

5. You need a different insurance company.

I have Blue Cross. They negotiate contracts with hospitals, to nail down just how much each procedure costs. Hospitals have to submit properly coded invoices to them, and there's no mystery charges such as the fees you've described. Hospitals often bill multiple times for a procedure that has been performed only once. Once Blue Cross has refused to pay an improper fee, the hospital cannot try to collect if from me. It's in the contract.

It's shocking, the bullshit that health care providers try to get us to pay for. I believe their systematically excessive charges often constitute criminal fraud.

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Response to Lasher (Reply #5)

Tue Feb 12, 2013, 06:15 PM

6. Well, my employer carried CIGNA

... They didn't give us the option to "shop" ...

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Response to Myrina (Reply #6)

Tue Feb 12, 2013, 07:02 PM

7. I suspected as much.

My heart goes out to you and the rest of Americans who have shitty health insurance. You are a victim of a deliberate campaign to deprive us of affordable health care. But what the hell, you're covered, right?

Here is a link to an incisive DU thread on the subject: Their goal - END employer paid health care. Please Read.

Lasher

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Response to Lasher (Reply #5)

Tue Feb 12, 2013, 08:26 PM

8. Blue Cross has many different plans, depending on the person and/or the employer.

These plans can vary widely. So, just saying, "we have Blue Cross" doesn't identify what the details of your plan are.

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Response to SharonAnn (Reply #8)

Tue Feb 12, 2013, 09:10 PM

9. That is a very good point.

I heartily agree with you.

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Response to Myrina (Reply #4)

Wed Feb 13, 2013, 11:31 PM

11. some places will haggle over the price

has the hospital been paid by your IC yet?

IMO, a hospital is no different than buying a used car or getting your septic tank cleaned out.

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Response to quadrature (Reply #11)

Thu Feb 14, 2013, 10:49 AM

12. Yeah, the insurance company paid their share ...

... then when I got what was leftover (my $5k) I called the hospital and said I could pay in full, next day bank draft, if they would knock 25% off the bill. THEY REFUSED!

So I told them I'd just wait for it to go to collections and strike the same bargain with the collection agency - no skin off my ass, my credit rating already sucks. And that's what I did.

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Response to Myrina (Reply #12)

Thu Feb 14, 2013, 05:42 PM

13. well done .nt

nt

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Response to Lasher (Original post)

Wed Feb 13, 2013, 11:17 PM

10. I am so extremely grateful for our MSP in Canada

My Mr just had a(nother) heart attack. Fire department and paramedics responded to the house and took him by ambulance to the nearest hospital 20 miles away. On the way he was met and stabilized by an advanced life support team. Spent the night in emergency then moved to a cardiac ward. Had an angiogram where it was determined that his heart was too weak and he would be better treated by a different hospital in case he needed a transplant. Flown by helicopter with advanced life support to the other hospital, where he had a triple bypass operation and was in an intensive care recovery ward with a special nurse dedicated to him for nearly a week. During that time he's had numerous other tests and treatments. We don't know when he'll be released to come home yet, and he was first admitted on Feb 1 so it will be 2 weeks tomorrow of intensive medical care.

The only cost to us is a relative pittance for the transport by ambulance and helicopter which is based on distance, not mode of travel. I suspect that it'll be around $200 in total.

I feel just so bad for you people who have to live with the American health care system. I have no idea what we would be billed under your system, probably hundreds of thousands of dollars.

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