Hospital ER Charges $9,000 to Bandage Cut Finger

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A New Jersey teacher was stunned when he received a $9,000 bill after his cut finger was bandaged in a hospital emergency room. Baer Hanusz-Rajkowski cut his finger with the claw end of a hammer. After waiting a few days to see if it would heal on its own, Hanusz-Rajkowski decided to go to the emergency room at Bayonne Medical Center in New Jersey, according to NBC New York. It was determined (without X-rays) that his finger didn’t need stitches. So Hanusz-Rajkowski left with a bandaged middle finger. NBC New York said he was surprised to get this in the mail:

Hanusz-Rajkowski got hit with an $8,200 bill for the emergency room visit. On top of that, Bayonne Medical Center charged $180 for a tetanus shot, $242 for sterile supplies, and $8 for some antibacterial ointment in addition to hundreds of dollars for the services of the nurse practitioner.

That $9,000 bill left Hanusz-Rajkowski speechless. From NBC:

“I got a Band-Aid and a tetanus shot. How could it be $9,000? This is crazy,” Hanusz-Rajkowski said. “If I severed a limb, I’d carry it to the next emergency room in the next city before I go back to this place.”

Why was the bill so high? The answer isn’t clear. It’s more of a he said, she said. Carepoint Health bought Bayonne Medical Center about six years ago, making it a for-profit business, NBC said. Dr. Mark Spektor, president and CEO of the medical center, said the big bill is the fault of Hanusz-Rajkowski’s insurance company, United Healthcare, which no longer has an in-network pricing contract with the hospital. Spektor said United doesn’t offer fair reimbursement rates. According to NBC, Mary McElrath-Jones, spokeswoman for United Healthcare, disagrees with Spektor. “United Healthcare is deeply concerned about hospitals establishing an out-of-network strategy to hike the rate they charge for emergency room services, often surprising patients,” she said. Regardless of whether there’s an in-network price deal, New Jersey law demands that insurers cover the costs of ER visits, NBC said. United Healthcare ended up paying $6,640 on the bill. After the story hit the news, the hospital wrote off Hanusz-Rajkowski’s portion of the bill. Some people are calling for a price cap on ER procedures, NBC reported. Spektor said that would put the hospital, which was once on the brink of bankruptcy and is now profitable again, at risk.

“Insurance companies in the state of New Jersey particularly have had record profits last year. Billions of dollars in profits while hospitals are struggling and closing. That is the real story,” Spektor said.

What do you think of Hanusz-Rajkowski’s hospital bill? Do you think you’ve been massively overcharged at a hospital? Share your comments below or on our Facebook page.

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Comments & discussion

We welcome your opinions, but let’s keep it civil. Like many businesses, we reserve the right to refuse service to anyone. In our case, that means those who communicate by name-calling, racism, using words designed to hurt others or generally acting like an uninformed bully. Also, comments that include links to email addresses or commercial websites typically aren't posted. This isn't a place to advertise your business.

  • http://batman-news.com C. Newell

    I believe there should be maximum cap charges on all of healthcare. These of course would have to take into account and be fair for each the consumer, and healthcare provider.

  • http://www.pbanj.com Paul

    Lets go back to the system years ago when “the doctors made too much money”. Remember that’s when we started all the managed care, brought in the middle men (who know nothing about healthcare, but are there to control costs), and now we support tons of pencil pushers. I don’t need some 20 year old who majored in history telling me why I can’t have the medicine that my doctor ordered. We are killing the system and ACA is no better. Put those people to work doing useful things for society and give me back good medical care at a price I can afford. BTW, I am NOT a doctor, just a realist.

  • Al Seaver

    Why is the bill so high? Because the people running the hospitals are crooks, that’s why. And they should be treated as such when things like this happen and jailed.

  • grandmaguest

    My question is this…… he waited three (3) days before heading to the emergency room according to the story??? Why didn’t he just go to his doctor’s office after 3 days? If he did indeed wait that long, then it wasn’t an emergency! If, after seeing him, his doctor felt he needed emergency services he could have sent him. The rationale of going to the emergency room in this instance eludes me.

  • smokey347

    why on earth would he go to the emergency room for a cut finger? i think he was charged for being stupid!

  • Diana

    All large hospitals are outsourcing the emergency rooms to make more money. Case in point Providence Everett, WA, you will not be told about the billing change upfront. After you have been given treatment you will find out that Blue Cross will no longer cover the bill. Blue Cross apparently has to have a new contract and of course the new Canadian firm doesn’t have one because they won’t agree to reduce their charges. In an emergency you aren’t asking how much, you have enough problems getting admitted past the line and getting an oxygen tank in a hurry. It isn’t fun getting misplaced in an emergency room and it does happen so follow up on what is going on. I have tried by-passing the emergency room by going to the doctor just next door for direct admittance to the hospital and it didn’t work. Sometimes your doctor can call the hospital for getting a room directly when you have a heart attack but don’t count on it. Also be prepared to have relatives bring you food and drink etc because the most you can expect is a blanket. Plan on being there 12 hours before being admitted. They may also turn you away saying you couldn’t possibly have pneumonia again. So you will have to go back when you are worse in 3 days. There won’t be a comfy chair for family to snooze in so bring a sleeping bag and air mattress since you will be desperate for a nap at 4 am and ready to crawl on an examining table. Bring 3 copies of your prescriptions printed out. One for the emergency room, 1 for the hospital admitter, and 1 for the actual nurse who sets up the times because unless their computers have been upgraded to talk to each other they will lose it. When you leave the hospital don’t forget your inhaler etc, because the insurance company won’t pay for another prescription if you lost it, and if you want to travel you can’t take extra pills because the insurance company won’t advance them. They expect you to refill in whatever backwater place you may be traveling so check every place in advance. And you might want to call the fire department for the ambulance because if you bypass this step and go to the local walk-in clinic for your emergency then they call the fire department ambulance and you will get a bill from them when it would have been a free trip from you home. And a thing you don’t want to plan for, who picks up the body after the fire department leaves. The fire department may call a local mortuary that is very expensive so check on the internet about cheaper cremation alternatives before that day comes and cut your bill by thousands. Remember you will have lots of medical bills to pay so that expensive funeral is out. On a side note you won’t be able to fill those prescriptions from your doctor because the drug companies don’t make enough money on some drugs so they aren’t making them. It might be for cancer or just a B12 shot but there is a shortage because the system is broken. I have lots of horror stories I could tell you of what happened to us. They cured my husband’s lung cancer but they gave him a huge radiation overdose that burnt him, destroyed his heart valve and he died. So remember to check the pills, check the blood type, and don’t ever assume they know best.

  • Azzy7

    All these people calling for more bills don’t understand the deceit in the system. When I worked at the NJ Medical center their hospital, university hospital, was caught charging medicare the absolute largest charge, no matter the case. They fired the whistle blower and because they had polticians on no show jobs, there wereblue no real repercussions to the people ordering the unarmed robbery of NJ. I did not like United Health care when I had it. Only Blue cross seems to fight for what you pay. I am trying to get back into their HMO but I bet it was gutted by obozocare.

  • Ilya Simkhovich

    “emergency room” isn’t for “my finger is still messed up after a day or two and i’m worried about it”. emergency room is for “i can’t go a few seconds without nearly passing out from abdominal pain”. short of “emergency room” there are “urgent care” facilities–also “privatized” but COVERED by insurance. this “teacher” should have known how to find something short of emergency room in his city. i just searched “urgent care bayonne” and it looks like this city in new jersey has some. also, the people in the emergency room thought he was a complete jerk. they knew that he shouldn’t have been there but were willing to do it but still, it’s immoral not to have suggested he LEAVE and find an urgent care facility; there could have been people “with their arm cut off” and he was wasting SO MANY resources by sitting there like an idiot getting treatment that could have cost as much as 2 bucks at “dollar tree” with a box of bandaids and some generic neosporin. people in AGONY sitting there waiting while he was like “you know, it just worried me”.

  • Senya

    Ain’t capitalism wonnerful???

  • Joseph Freitas

    This is why I hate the ACA. We didn’t need insurance for everyone, we needed reasonable and fair pricing which we still don’t have.

  • GGinNC

    He should sue the hospital for pain and suffering, by making them pay their own bill, plus paying for the stress of thinking you owe $9000 and not knowing where it’s gonna come from!

  • irisheyes57

    I would have to be half dead before I went to a ER. I worked in hospital ER and a billing dept at a doctors office. If you do go to the hospital for any reason, always ask for a itemized bill. They will add so much stuff to your bill it isn’t funny. Go over the bill completely and check, you will see that they have tacked stuff on that they didn’t use. And call and go over it with the billing dept. I have come to avoid doctors and hospitals like the plague..The worst is sitting and waiting on someone to take care of you. While you sit and wait, you will hear them in the hall talking about their vacations, their kids soccer games or just plain sitting on their butts. The medical profession now a day is a freaking joke. It’s all about their pay check not the patient care.