She Was Told Surgery Would Cost About $1,300. Then the Bill Came: $229,000.
Here is a link to the full NY Times story:
A galling fact of hospital billing is that they usually don’t share the menu of procedures and prices prior to your agreeing to get the work done so you cannot comparison shop. Insurance coverage for a particular procedure is often a best guess rather than a guarantee.
All too often, courts have allowed hospitals to collect fees that people had no idea they would face. Finally, the Supreme Court of Colorado has stated that a blanket approval to pay for services rendered is not a blank check.
The Court criticized the hospital’s billing sheet, a “chargemaster”— which the hospital would not even share with the plaintiff during the lawsuit, claiming it was a trade secret.
Hopefully, other courts will follow this decision; and hospital billing will start to resemble approaches in other industries that sell to consumers. People should not be surprised after the fact; they have a right to know in advance and plan.
Equally galling, the amount of the charges that people face for procedures often seem unrelated to actual costs.
Health care constitutes between 20-25 percent of the economy. We need to start exercising control without sacrificing care. If normal practices that apply in other markets between buyers and sellers start to change patient behavior, then we will all benefit.