Killer Hospital Bills (Part 2)

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MONEY TALKS NEWS — While there may be plenty of debate about how to fix the healthcare system, there’s almost no disagreement that it’s currently broken.

“The hospitals are balancing their books on the backs of the uninsured. Middle class, working class people, and that’s morally unacceptable” Patient rights advocate K.B. Forbes told Money Talks News.

Forbes is fighting a hospital system that he says, routinely charges insured patients as much as five times what uninsured patients pay for the same care. Simply put, hospitals lose so much money on uninsured patients who don’t pay–many send out ridiculously high bills to those that can.

“If somebody comes in and gets free care, obviously that’s a cost. We have to recover it from somebody” said Chief Financial Officer, Ralph Lawson of Baptist Health in Florida.

In Dhavi Eustaquio’s case, the hospital is trying to recover nearly $12,000. It’s the cost of a visit to the Emergency Room, which Forbes said, should have been more like $3,500.

“Now I’m not asking for free care, I’m asking to be charged what is reasonable,” Eustaquio adds.

Baptist Hospital C.F.O Lawson, admits patients like Eustaquio who don’t qualify for charity, should ask for help.

“Work with your local hospital system and see if you can’t negotiate a better price than what the list price might be” Lawson adds.

But what the hospital calls better, $6,000 in Dhavi’s case, Forbes believes isn’t fair. What he wants is for hospitals to simply charge uninsured patients 10% more than insured patient’s pay.

“Hospitals have to prove that their prices are reasonable and you do not have an obligation to pay a bill that has been grossly inflated.”

Bottom line, hopefully there’s help on the way for uninsured Americans. In the meantime, if you don’t have insurance, and find yourself with big bills, do what you can to negotiate a fair price.

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