Photo (cc) by taberandrew
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.