- Posted February 22, 2013 by
Newport news, Virginia
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Bitter pill: The cost of health care in the U.S.
Heart Scare Turns Into Good News, Bad News
I was ambulatory so my wife drove me to the hospital. Standard Operating Procedure (or so I was told) for potential heart patients was an initial EKG, complete blood work up, and IV, all of which was done. In the hours before I saw a doctor, I was given two bags of saline IV, hooked up to the heart monitor, and had yet another four vials of blood drawn.
The doctor finally arrived with good news. It didn't appear to be heart related. However, the pain still persisted, so he pressed around a bit, jotted some things down, and told me I needed x-rays. His entire visit lasted roughly 10 minutes.
A short period later, a nurse arrived to transport me to radiology where I had three X-rays taken. Half an hour after being wheeled back to my room, the nurse returned and told me the doctor believed I had an inflammation of the costosternal cartilage which connects the ribs to the sternum. I was given both a Skelaxin (muscle relaxant) and an 800mg Ibuprofen tab and the nurse vanished again.
An hour or so later, the nurse returned with discharge papers and prescriptions. She explained the doctor officially diagnosed costochondritis as my reason for visiting and outlined the prescription regimen. I never saw the doctor again.
The bills started showing up roughly a month later. I don't have them in front of me but I will never forget some of them:
- The ER Physician's Group which represented the doctor who saw me (for 10 minutes) billed $700.
- The Radiologist group who represented the radiologist billed $375 for the x-rays and "labor".
- The Hospital billed $2300 for "facility services", $2 for the Ibuprofen tablet, and $27 for the Skelaxin tablet.
I was also charged for the blood work, the 2 bags of saline IV, as well as charges for the labor of the nurse and the phlebotomist. I do not recall the approximate values for these bills.
After all the bills were tallied, the total was over $5400.
Being uninsured, the hospital sent me home with all kinds of paperwork on working with them to settle the bill but what that paperwork did NOT disclose was that it only pertained to the hospital charges. I had to go through similar processes for each of the various groups who billed separately from the hospital itself.
I'm still supposed to be paying on this debt but food and utilities come first. It's little wonder medical bills are the #1 cause of bankruptcies in this country.