Killer Hospital Bills (Part 1)

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The uninsured pay far more for their health care procedures than your insurance company would.

MONEY TALKS NEWS — While the healthcare debtate rages on, every day uninsured Americans are faced with a lot of hard pills to swallow.  Their hurdles serve as a reminder of why healthcare reform is needed.

“The way that my stomach was swollen and the pain, we all thought that was appendicitis” Dhavi Eustaquio told Money Talks News.

The diagnosis wasn’t appendicitis.  Despite 8 hours of tests, doctors never figured out exactly what her problem was. The pain faded, and Eustaquio left the hospital, with a whole new problem.

“I get the bill and I almost had a heart attack.  It was almost $12,000.”

This is a classic case in the world of the uninsured. Those without insurance skate, and  those you can pay, do.  Through the nose. It’s called cost or charge shifting.  Find help for the uninsured in your state.

“Somebody needs to cover the economics, so the charges are increased for the paying patients to pay for the patient that doesn’t” said Baptist Health Chief Financial Officer, Ralph Lawson.

According to consumer advocacy group Consejo de Latinos Unidos, if Dhavi’s tests were covered by Medicare, they would have cost about $2,600. The average insurance company would have been charged about $2,900. But Davina’s bill? Nearly $12,000.

Since many uninsured people don’t pay, somebody’s got to pay extra. It’s not Medicare and it’s not insurance companies: they negotiate discounted rates. So who’s left?

“The uninsured, who are not poor enough to qualify for charity care, or Medicaid, yet not healthy enough or wealthy enough to have private insurance are the people who get stuck with these outrageously high medical bills” Patient advocate K. B. Forbes said.

So what’s the solution? System-wide, who knows? Hopefully the ongoing debate and pending legislation will address these and other pressing problems in our healthcare system. But until then, there are things you can do if you find yourself in Dhavi’s situation.  Check out Part II of this story for specific advice.

Stacy Johnson

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