My emergency-room bill

On May 6, as I reported, I ripped my ear open on a jagged tree branch while running between the ponds. I didn’t show the picture of the carnage here as it was extremely bloody. I sent a photo to my GP, as it wouldn’t stop bleeding, and he told me to go to the emergency room in the time of the cornavirus, for I’d need stitches. He added, which was true, that it would be pretty much empty because people were afraid to get the virus, even in the ER. But I had to remove my mask during the stitching, as it was around my ear.

As I reported, the ER had a lot of precautions, including taking your temperature, socially distancing you in the chairs (only one other guy was waiting, along with three cops who had a professional interest in being there), and ensuring that everyone wore masks.

I was in there for about 5 hours, most of that time spent waiting. Finally, a nice resident in ENT came down and sewed me up, tossing the bloody gauzes on the floor during the long process, so that the floor looked like a MASH unit when we were done. It took about 11 stitches, and was very painful despite the anesthetic—and I consider myself pain-resistant. At any rate, I’m better now, and the stitches fell out, as they were supposed to.

I just got the bill, along with my portion not covered by insurance, which was larger than usual because it was an ER visit. For those of you who are blessed with single-payer medical care, and pay nothing or very little beyond your taxes, here’s my bill:

Actually, it was about $200 more than this because of some other charge. I paid about $200 total. $6,412 is a lot of dosh, but more or less what I expected.

106 Comments

  1. scruffycookie
    Posted June 3, 2020 at 11:55 am | Permalink

    A year ago in January I had to go to the ER because of dehydration. I was there a few hours and the total bill was nearly $10,000.00. I had to pay about $3000.00 of that. I’m glad you weren’t billed more.

    • Posted June 3, 2020 at 12:31 pm | Permalink

      I assume that those $3K were mainly your annual deductible (I hope)?

      • scruffycookie
        Posted June 3, 2020 at 5:22 pm | Permalink

        Yes–my deductible that year was $5,500. This year it’s $6,500. I pay about $800 a month for this Bronze plan. However, without the ACA, I’d be denied heath insurance and would have to go without.

  2. Posted June 3, 2020 at 11:56 am | Permalink

    Your insurance likely did not actually dish out $6238.20 as they have a “contract” or back-end deal with hospitals, especially emergency rooms.

    They like to show that high number to impress. “Gee, I only paid a tiny portion, great insurance!”

    If you try to negotiate cash pay for treatment, you will never find out what it would have been for an insurance company to pay. It will be higher than $173, for sure. Perhaps $1000.

  3. Posted June 3, 2020 at 12:02 pm | Permalink

    Interesting. My bills look quite different. First, the billed amount is some absurd amount like $10,000. Second, there is an equally absurd amount that discounts the bill, like $9500 reducing it to an entirely reasonable $500. Then insurance pays $500.

    My rant is that I would be happy to pay the $500 and save the insurance premiums. But I can’t. If uninsured they’d stick me with the whole $10K. It seems I am paying insurance mainly to get their discounted fees.

    • Posted June 3, 2020 at 12:38 pm | Permalink

      My total bills for 2017 were around $90,000 (two hospitalizations, 3 ambulance rides (one without being admitted), much physical therapy and other therapy, all of which was most thankfully effective). That was what insurance + I paid out.

      My share was about $4500, mainly my annual deductible.

      Without insurance, I would have been billed for the $90K.

      I am very grateful for good medical insurance (I’d prefer to have a Canada-style or UK-style universal single-payer HC). Provided by the excellent company I work for. And my company stood behind me 100%.

      And, even if I had to pay the bill, it wouldn’t have bankrupted us. I am very fortunate.

      For 2018, for one hip replacement + PT (years of hard use and favoring the opposite knee, previously injured), the payout was about $50,000. Brilliantly effective. My share was about $3500, again, mainly the annual deductible.

      • Posted June 3, 2020 at 12:44 pm | Permalink

        One of the peculiar and negative things about the US system is that your insurance depends on your employer. Good employer, good insurance. Bad or no employer, bad or no insurance unless you can afford it yourself. Almost feudal.

        • Posted June 3, 2020 at 1:56 pm | Permalink

          Yes, it’s effed up.

          I favor single payer universal coverage on the CA or UK model.

  4. Posted June 3, 2020 at 12:02 pm | Permalink

    France is often reckoned to have the best Single-Payer healthcare in the world. The tax on earnings is high, but look what you get; a first-class health and welfare system.
    I had to go to ER twice last December…(Swolen prostate), and the bil each time was €29 = $29 then a four day hospital operation, for which the total bill was about a thousand dollars, paid by The State. But I had to pay for four consultancies with surgeons and anaesthetists, for fifty bucks a go.
    Since 45,000 Americans die each year for lack of health cover, why aren’t people campaigning for a European-style health service? It is half the cost… 9% in Europe and 18% in USA, because of the huge cost of running an insurance system, so that for every dollar on health,another dollar for the insurance, who’s CEOs are said to make a hundred million a year.

    • Jon Gallant
      Posted June 3, 2020 at 12:47 pm | Permalink

      While living in France 50 years ago, I had a cold which became, malheureusement, an ear infection. At a nearby small clinic, the cost of which was all covered by Sécurité Sociale, they gave me medication to take home including some in the form of a suppository. I tried putting the suppository in my ear, but don’t remember how well that worked.

      • Posted June 3, 2020 at 12:54 pm | Permalink

        I was in Denmark in the midst of extensive world travel and exhibited impetigo (which I picked up in Egypt. No, I did not swim in the Nile! 🙂 ).

        The friends I was staying with (Denmark) took me to their doctor who treated me for free and provided the needed skin medicine to treat the infection. The doctor said, “you are part of their family, we take care of you.”

        Wow, what a fine and generous and friendly system.

    • Posted June 3, 2020 at 12:49 pm | Permalink

      Many in the USA want a France/Germany/UK/Canada style system. The ACA (“Obamacare”) was a tiny step in that direction.

      The re are large vested interests opposing this. And very silly citizens.

      I well remember an interview by NPR in 2016 with a woman in West Virginia.

      They asked her if she had health insurance: Yes, through the ACA. (She did not have health insurance prior to the ACA.)

      Did she favor the ACA? No: People shouldn’t get handouts.

      But won’t that hurt you? Yes; but people shouldn’t get handouts.

      The “red states” (the more rural, more conservative states) get much more from the US Federal government than they put in (in effect, “handouts”, funded by the “blue states”, which are the engine of production and innovation in the USA. So all their talk of opposing welfare is hypocritical.

      But then, as I’ve often said Hypocrisy is a Core Republican Value™.

    • rickflick
      Posted June 3, 2020 at 12:53 pm | Permalink

      Why aren’t people campaigning for a European-style health service? Maybe because the French don’t have enough take-home pay to buy a new house, giant flat screen display, and a new car whenever the urge gets too strong. Americans, I’ve noticed, do like to accumulate a lot of stuff and let the future be as it may.

      • scruffycookie
        Posted June 3, 2020 at 5:26 pm | Permalink

        Fear mongering and misinformation abound here in the US. People are told that having that kind of health service is “Socialism” and BAD! I have been told to my face that I didn’t deserve to receive health care because I didn’t make enough money to pay for insurance. It didn’t matter that my pre-existing conditions made the cost of insurance prohibitive and I would have been denied it anyway.

        • rickflick
          Posted June 3, 2020 at 8:38 pm | Permalink

          Sorry for your struggles. Sad for all of us.

      • Posted June 4, 2020 at 5:04 am | Permalink

        Because people who have an interest in the status quo being maintained like to conflate “social”, “socialism” and “communism”.

        Also: death panels.

      • Jean Marc Liron
        Posted June 4, 2020 at 6:42 pm | Permalink

        It is sad to see that even distinguished readers of Professor Ceiling Cat can make sneaky anti-French innuendoes inspired by good old Donald Rumsfeld. I feel compelled to point out that the proportion of households owning their principal residence is 65% in the USA, 58% in France, 66% in my region of Brittany. There is nothing significant in this respect, except perhaps the possibility in France of obtaining real estate bank loans at a rate of around 1% without any downpayment nor mortgage, and without the tyranny of credit rating.

        What is certainly significant, however, is the difference in the cost of the overall health system: 11.54% of GDP in France, 17.14% of GDP in the USA.
        https://ourworldindata.org/health-meta#how-has-healthcare-expenditure-evolved-across-different-countries

        And also the difference in life expectancy:
        82.6 years in France, 78.6 years in the US.
        https://www.healthsystemtracker.org/chart-collection/u-s-life-expectancy-compare-countries/#item-le_life-expectancy-at-birth-in-years-2017_dec-2019-update

        I can assure you that no one here cares about his emergency room bill. We’re about as stressed by health care bills as we are by running water bills.

        Anyway… Just my two cents
        Have a nice day

        • rickflick
          Posted June 4, 2020 at 8:01 pm | Permalink

          This distinguished reader thanks you for your kind accolade. However, you may have misinterpreted my comment. I did not intend any slight against the French whom I greatly admire. As a matter of fact I was criticizing the USians for being too materialistic. Thanks for the statistics. I am pleased to have given another distinguished reader the opportunity to add two cents. 🤨

          • Jean Marc Liron
            Posted June 5, 2020 at 2:04 pm | Permalink

            Two centimes, actually.
            Thank you for this clarification

      • Michael Waterhouse
        Posted June 7, 2020 at 10:51 pm | Permalink

        I’m in Australia and I can have any of those things as I see fit as well as good health care.

        • rickflick
          Posted June 7, 2020 at 11:01 pm | Permalink

          That’s amazing. Here they say we can’t have good health care and expendable income. Or much of any income.

  5. sgo
    Posted June 3, 2020 at 12:07 pm | Permalink

    I do hope that that is all. I went to the ER mid-march and received the final hospital bills about two months later. Insurance had paid a lot but I still needed to pay more than I expected.

  6. Julian C
    Posted June 3, 2020 at 12:08 pm | Permalink

    Interesting. Good to have insurance…
    I live in Ontario and was in emergency this January. Had to be admitted to hospital and was there three nights. My employer-based insurance covered the differential for a semi private room; all else — including a CT scan and an intervention to insert a stent in the bile duct — covered by the provincial health insurance plan, OHIP. I have no idea how much the process cost, since I never saw a bill.

    • Posted June 3, 2020 at 12:40 pm | Permalink

      Is Canada’s Medicare administered at the Provincial level? I thought it was a national-level program(?).

      • Mike
        Posted June 3, 2020 at 1:38 pm | Permalink

        Federally funded, provincially run.

        • Posted June 3, 2020 at 1:54 pm | Permalink

          Thank you!

        • Dale
          Posted June 3, 2020 at 3:48 pm | Permalink

          Partly Federally funded and Partly Provincially funded. The federal funding comes with conditions of universality so the most conservative provincial governments can’t create a two tiered system. Priorities are determined by the provinces.

    • phoffman56
      Posted June 4, 2020 at 7:12 pm | Permalink

      Got my hip replaced at Cambridge, Ontario hospital in February, perfect job, not the closest place, but the soonest.

      My cost $000.00, except for a bit of electricity to drive back and forth.

      Cycled 92.3 kilometres today, so reasonable for a 78.5 year old, attesting to the quality of surgeon Dr. Radovanovich’s work.

      But it was an electric bike, one which will do about 30 km on pure battery, so not that big a deal.

      Anyway it’s 123 km to Goderich, before June is done. I’ll brag in advance to force myself to do it.

      In $CDN I pay about $35,000/yr. to federal and provincial governments, about $7,000 local and educational. It should be more probably, given income inequality, not as bad as US, but definitely improvable. Take about 70% of that for $US.

      The majority of us in western countries live like kings of up to 200 years ago, and almost entirely due to scientific knowledge. I’d be dead at least twice by now if it did not exist.

      I’m surprised there’s any support at all on this non-blog for US-style health care.

      • Diana MacPherson
        Posted June 5, 2020 at 8:54 pm | Permalink

        A couple people I work with got hip replacements this year. One is his second hip. He has some sort of genetic issue that predisposed him to hip problems as he’s only in his early 50s & I think he had his first done in his 40s. Another is a woman who got hers done last Fall. Both are fully recovered and of course paired by OHIP. My doctor just got his done too. He went to Montreal because I guess they were doing a new technique he favoured.

  7. Vaal
    Posted June 3, 2020 at 12:13 pm | Permalink

    As a Canadian, every time I hear more about the US Health Care system and the financial worries and sometimes devastation it causes, I shudder and feel thankful for our system.
    (Though not perfect by any means, I’ll take it in a heartbeat over the USA scenario).

    • Posted June 3, 2020 at 12:40 pm | Permalink

      This is more or less what I hear from every Canadian. 🙂

    • Posted June 3, 2020 at 8:50 pm | Permalink

      Ditto.

    • Posted June 4, 2020 at 5:38 am | Permalink

      Same goes for the UK system, and I’ve had the misfortune to need medical treatment in New Zealand while on holiday, and the good fortune to need only a few dollars to settle the bill. Thanks, NZ.

      • Diana MacPherson
        Posted June 4, 2020 at 3:26 pm | Permalink

        I think NZ pays for you if you have an accident. Just say you tripped and someone ran you over next time. 😀

        • Posted June 5, 2020 at 7:33 am | Permalink

          After a long (12 hour) drive, I tripped on a thick rug at the B&B, while transferring two full glasses of wine to the dinner table (I was still sober, honest). With no free hand to save myself, I went down and impaled my left hand on the remains of one of the glasses. Our kind host drove me to the nearest hospital, in spite of the fact that I had just covered his $1000 rug with red wine and blood! So it was an accident.

          The strange thing is, I never felt any pain, at the time or the next day, and all I paid for for a supply of ibuprofen, which I didn’t need.

          • Diana MacPherson
            Posted June 5, 2020 at 8:44 am | Permalink

            Yikes!

          • Posted June 5, 2020 at 9:44 am | Permalink

            I have had accidents where I felt no pain. Once when I was about 10, I was wearing shorts and scooting around on my knees in the living room. I felt something go into my knee. Not pain but simply mechanical pressure. Upon inspection I discovered that I had a large, open safety pin driven directly into my knee all the way to its spring coil. I suspect that it missed my pain receptors. I calmly pulled it out and it didn’t even bleed.

            • rickflick
              Posted June 5, 2020 at 10:19 am | Permalink

              Interesting how those small moments in our history are so vividly remembered. I remember jumping off a high porch and cutting my palm when I was about 7. The first time I ever saw a large crimson field of my own blood glistening in the sun. The visual shock was far more impressive than the pain.

              • Posted June 5, 2020 at 10:34 am | Permalink

                Yes, injuries can be very memorable. I once came home somewhat drunk and decided I needed to take a shower. In my clumsiness, I put my hand through the window in my shower. Without thinking, of course, I pulled my hand back and cut my wrist on the remaining glass shards. The wound was very much like someone would make deliberately slitting their wrists and it bled profusely. “Is this how it ends?”, I thought. No, it turns out.

              • rickflick
                Posted June 5, 2020 at 12:51 pm | Permalink

                I’m very happy to see you survived to continue commenting. 😎

              • Posted June 5, 2020 at 1:00 pm | Permalink

                Thanks. Same to you buddy! 😉

              • Diana MacPherson
                Posted June 5, 2020 at 5:45 pm | Permalink

                Probably and evolutionary thing. Like how we remember terrible experiences so vividly. I tend to remember when I screw things up like when I mixed up “lead” and “led” in high school Latin class.

              • rickflick
                Posted June 5, 2020 at 7:29 pm | Permalink

                We moved to Michigan from Ontario when I was in 3rd grade. I was in a state of shock when moving to an unfamiliar school, and the worst of it was, I couldn’t pretend I was one of them because I spoke only Canadian. E.g. US – “eraser”, Canada – “rubber”. My ears burned with shame. 😎

            • Diana MacPherson
              Posted June 5, 2020 at 5:50 pm | Permalink

              Have you considered that maybe you’re a Terminator or Replicant!

              • Posted June 5, 2020 at 5:58 pm | Permalink

                No but are those my only choices? Replicant sounds better.

                I certainly feel pain under the usual circumstances. I consider myself somewhat pain-tolerant, except at the dentist office.

              • Diana MacPherson
                Posted June 5, 2020 at 6:09 pm | Permalink

                Terminator is better as with the right parts you could live forever. Cylon is even better if you can reincarnate. Replicant is the worst because they expire after 7 years & they seem psychologically unstable.

                I too have a lot of dental discomfort. I think all my nerves end in my gums.

              • rickflick
                Posted June 5, 2020 at 7:32 pm | Permalink

                Just send someone else in your place to the dentist office. I think they are called surrogates.

  8. Jon Gallant
    Posted June 3, 2020 at 12:14 pm | Permalink

    The actual process of administering an
    anesthetic and sewing the stitches probably
    took 15 minutes, or let’s say 30 minutes at the outside. A Physician’s Assistant at a local clinic could have done both, were our medical system organized differently.

    The $6412 bill, however, reflects the cost of operating the entire hospital, its ER, and many other facilities; plus the layers of administration dictated by the insurance system; plus the administration and profit of the insurance company. Impressive how these costs add up, explaining why the condition of the insurance business is maintained with such care and attention in this country.

    • Posted June 3, 2020 at 12:42 pm | Permalink

      The staffing on hand for the ER is impressive (having needed an ER in 2017 4 times). I can understand the elevated cost for ER services (though maybe not to these heights).

  9. Posted June 3, 2020 at 12:22 pm | Permalink

    Yes, but how much is your lost 5 hours worth? The price isn’t so bad but it hardly seems like a good system. Perhaps you should have gone to a corrupt veterinarian like TV criminals do. 😉

    • max blancke
      Posted June 3, 2020 at 2:58 pm | Permalink

      Your ear issue is just the sort of thing that urgent care facilities do well. ERs are always expensive, although they don’t need to be.
      What you really need to do is to make some friends who are experienced doctors. I know that similar procedures have been done numerous times at our kitchen table. Also, my wife will often meet long time patients at her office after hours to take care of such things, as long as a nurse is not really needed. This is especially true for elderly folks. She hates to send them to the ER if it is not strictly necessary.

      • Posted June 3, 2020 at 3:03 pm | Permalink

        Eh? I don’t have an ear issue. Perhaps your reply went astray.

        • max blancke
          Posted June 4, 2020 at 4:23 pm | Permalink

          It was supposed to be a general reply to the topic. Sorry.

          • GBJames
            Posted June 4, 2020 at 4:46 pm | Permalink

            Uh…. I think Paul’s tongue was in his cheek. At least it looked like that from here.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted June 4, 2020 at 3:28 pm | Permalink

      Or stitch yourself up like Rambo. I thought that’s what all Americans did and that all Americans are just like Rambo. 😀

      • GBJames
        Posted June 4, 2020 at 4:50 pm | Permalink

        We are. Every damn one of us. Except my wife.

  10. Ken Kukec
    Posted June 3, 2020 at 12:34 pm | Permalink

    It took about 11 stitches, and was very painful despite the anesthetic …

    Buddy of mine got banged up pretty bad by an errant billy-club during a Vietnam War protest gone awry. The ER physician asked him was he allergic to any medications.

    “Everything but morphine, doc,” said he.

    • phoffman56
      Posted June 4, 2020 at 7:18 pm | Permalink

      “Buddy of mine got banged up pretty bad by an errant billy-club during a Vietnam War protest gone awry.”

      More likely deliberate than errant??

      I marched against it, but in a safer country.

  11. GBJames
    Posted June 3, 2020 at 12:41 pm | Permalink

    The fact is that nobody knows the actual costs, not the doctors, not the patients, not the insurance companies, nor the hospitals. The system is so overly complex that it is impossible for anyone to really know.

  12. jezgrove
    Posted June 3, 2020 at 12:42 pm | Permalink

    As a Brit, all I can say is “Good grief”! How do they justify $6.5k for a few stitches etc?

    • Posted June 3, 2020 at 12:58 pm | Permalink

      It’s many things, as Jerry noted; but the continual staffing of the ER for any type of emergency that rolls in the door is a big part of it.

      Those costs are attached to all the procedures done there.

      Which isn’t to say that the US system is sensible. It’s not.

      – We pay 2X to 3X what Europeans (and Brits) pay for their health care and we get average worse outcomes.

      – There are still millions of Americans without health coverage.

      – Medical bills are the #1 cause of personal bankruptcy in the US

      – People fear changing jobs because of potential loss of health care coverage.

      – We have lower rates of self-employment than the rest of the developed world for the same reason.

      • rickflick
        Posted June 3, 2020 at 1:10 pm | Permalink

        Bernie would be proud of you. 😁

        • Posted June 3, 2020 at 2:00 pm | Permalink

          For listing the problems with the US system?

          I think we must get to single payer universal coverage. Not sure how it will happen, or when.

  13. Dustin
    Posted June 3, 2020 at 12:44 pm | Permalink

    I am a public school teacher with what is considered a good insurance plan compared to most people. Overall, it really is. However, my emergency room deductible is $2,500. So, I had to pay that during my last trip. My treatment basically amounted to saline treatments, yet that is over half of a month’s paycheck for me. They charged me separately for each time an attending physician came by to check on me.

    • Posted June 3, 2020 at 1:00 pm | Permalink

      Yep, the US system is compensation (reimbursement) by procedure (Dr. visit). That’s how they code and get reimbursed by the private insurance or the CMS.

  14. rickflick
    Posted June 3, 2020 at 1:00 pm | Permalink

    $6,412 is a ridiculous amount of money. I’m sure it’s just a shell game played by hospitals and insurance companies.

    I had chest pain looked at in the US and when on vacation in NZ. US $17,000 with a battery of tests, and overnight stay. NZ $3,000. Simpler tests, released the same day. My employer at the time payed most of it each time. Shell game.

    • Posted June 3, 2020 at 1:16 pm | Permalink

      This episode of Adam Ruins Everything explains why hospital bills in the U.S. are so ridiculously high:

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CeDOQpfaUc8

      • rickflick
        Posted June 3, 2020 at 5:34 pm | Permalink

        Yep. That’s what I was thinking. Where’s Bernie when you need him?

    • Posted June 3, 2020 at 7:50 pm | Permalink

      Depends on your insurance. I was a state employee (retired in January of this year)and we had really nice coverage. Almost four years ago I had a heart attack and spent six days in cardiac intensive care. While there I had two trips to the operating room to install a total of three stents. I paid $160 on admission to the ER and my final bill came to $35,000. I almost had another heart attack when I saw the bill, but my insurance took care of all but an additional $500.

  15. Glenda Palmer
    Posted June 3, 2020 at 1:10 pm | Permalink

    $6,412.00 for 11 stitches in head area. Did you hear the gasp coming from BC Canada?

    Jeez, I sincerely hope people in US can win a government that will address this lack of civilized health care in the very near future. It should be considered a basic right in the 21st century – at least for all first world countries.

    • daniaq
      Posted June 3, 2020 at 1:32 pm | Permalink

      Agreed! It’s insanity. I don’t understand how americans are ok with that…

      • Posted June 3, 2020 at 2:02 pm | Permalink

        Most aren’t. But there are enough people opposed to universal coverage (mainly in rural “red” states that disproportionately control the US Senate) to prevent it being adopted. Yet.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted June 4, 2020 at 3:31 pm | Permalink

      It’s that kind of pinko commie Canuckistan talk that the socialists all like. 😀

  16. David Harper
    Posted June 3, 2020 at 1:13 pm | Permalink

    I’m thankful for the National Health Service here in Britain. Whilst I’m in reasonably good health for my age, my (American) wife has been treated for cancer twice by the NHS, including surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy. There were no bills, and nobody asked if we had insurance.

    It’s sometimes said, only half in jest, that the NHS is the nearest thing the British have to a national religion, supplanting the Church of England as the body that reflects our shared values and our sense of collective identity.

    • Posted June 3, 2020 at 1:23 pm | Permalink

      🙂

    • rickflick
      Posted June 3, 2020 at 5:27 pm | Permalink

      USians struggle with the idea of collective identity.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted June 4, 2020 at 3:32 pm | Permalink

      Yeah, I had cancer right when I lost my job due to downsizing. If there had been no universal health care, I probably would be in massive debt/dead now.

  17. Will G
    Posted June 3, 2020 at 1:20 pm | Permalink

    Good thing the “thoughtful centrists” gave us a nominee who promised to veto universal health care even if it passed both chambers of the Congress. Just what we need.

  18. Billywindsock
    Posted June 3, 2020 at 1:31 pm | Permalink

    Three Sundays ago I managed to break the bottom of the vase I was cleaning and push the broken edges into the palm of my hand.
    Half an hour in triage, twenty minute wait and then forty minutes having 16 stiches and lots of bandages. One of the seven holes in my hand was still leaking a day later so another stitch and another dressing at the minor injuries unit. I had to get some painkillers and had a dressing changed after three days.
    Total cost = £9:15 for the pills. About thirteen dollars?

    • Posted June 3, 2020 at 1:47 pm | Permalink

      I hope it’s healed by now. No infection I hope?

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted June 4, 2020 at 3:34 pm | Permalink

      Ugh I did that when I was 10. I was trying to shove a spoon into a glass jar & it shattered & my hand, which had been pushing down on the lid, slammed into the jagged pieces. Because I’m a hard assed Rambo type, I had the stitches put in, without anesthetic, in my doctor’s office. Unlike Rambo though, I was wearing a little dress, bare feet & crying as I held a blood soaked wad of paper towels though.

  19. Mike
    Posted June 3, 2020 at 1:43 pm | Permalink

    Canadian here. Spouse came down with a viral infection in the brain that took weeks to diagnose. Three ambulance trips, four emergency room visits, two weeks in hospital (including a week in an isolation ward), multiple CT and MRI scans, EEG, spinal tap, tons of drugs. Total out-of-pocket cost was $50 for one of the ambulance rides.

    • garry vangelderen
      Posted June 3, 2020 at 1:57 pm | Permalink

      Back in Canada (Ontario) for 12 years now after retirement and 18 years in the USA for my final work assignment. Multiple surgeries and such here in Ontario and no out-of pocket costs.
      In USA: cost of insurance coverage to start, then cost of co-pays.
      And my actual tax burden not much higher here.

      • Mike
        Posted June 3, 2020 at 2:11 pm | Permalink

        Yes the tax difference is small, once net after-tax expenses like US health insurance costs are considered.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted June 4, 2020 at 3:35 pm | Permalink

      And I bet you were super pissed about the ambulance cost, which I think is wrong especially in Ontario where it’s pretty high as it stops people from taking an ambulance when they need it.

  20. Posted June 3, 2020 at 1:47 pm | Permalink

    I know it must be said often, but it’s so weird to me to see medical bills! (I’m in the UK, so NHS).

  21. Kevin
    Posted June 3, 2020 at 1:52 pm | Permalink

    I had an aortic dissection (60 cm from aortic arch to femoral artery) some 5 years ago. (Something similar to what unfortunately seems to have happened to Graine).
    Fifteen days in high dependency, a massive stent-graft fitted and 3 months off work.

    Cost: no charge direct to me, cost spread out through universalised health insurance.
    Actual cost: no idea but probably around £50.000 minimum.

    Viva the NHS and socialised (sorry I had to use the “S” word) heath care. Best British step forward in the last 80 years.

    Best way too to deal with something like Covid.

  22. Randall Schenck
    Posted June 3, 2020 at 1:57 pm | Permalink

    This example might be similar to the professors but only because we are the same age and so both on Medicare. Emergency room visit maybe a year ago or a little more. I believe it was just a back problem. Medicare shows Amount charged – $2613.30 Amount billed to me $40.34 If you want to code the thing it was 99283-25 I do not think my Aetna supplemental paid anything. So the whole deal was on Medicare.

    If you are interested in a valve change, via TAVR. I had one of those about 3 years back and the surgeon charged $36,882 for his part.
    My cost on that was $1,316. There was much additional stuff on this as well.

  23. Geoff Toscano
    Posted June 3, 2020 at 2:08 pm | Permalink

    A few years ago whilst holidaying in Majorca my disabled son slipped in the bathroom and gashed his head. We took him to a recommended hospital, only to find that it was private and we’d be required to pay, although we would be able to reclaim on our travel insurance (which subsequently we did). We weren’t in the hospital for anything like five hours but the treatment was very similar in that there were about a dozen stitches needed. The bill? About €440. And I thought that was pricey. $6400! Bloody hell!

  24. Richard Cozart
    Posted June 3, 2020 at 2:36 pm | Permalink

    Consider yourself fortunate that you were apparently treated by in-network providers. Many ER docs are now employed by staffing agencies which in turn are owned by private equity funds. And these agencies do not contract with insurance companies – the business model is to dodge lower pre-negotiated rates and balance bill the insured for the higher “retail” amount, or litigate with the insurers for higher reimbursement.

  25. Grant Palmer
    Posted June 3, 2020 at 4:04 pm | Permalink

    In the land down under it probably wouldn’t have cost a cent except for any medication filled by prescription from a pharmacist Which receives a copayment from the federal government provided it isn’t over the counter. The advantage of a single payer health system.

  26. Matt
    Posted June 3, 2020 at 4:34 pm | Permalink

    My dr. told me to go to the ER on Monday; he said it wouldn’t be crowded because of the virus. WRONG! There were 10 people ahead of me and I waited 4 hours before receiving care.

  27. Douglas Keck
    Posted June 3, 2020 at 5:20 pm | Permalink

    I just have to compare our health care system with that of France. I’m retired and live part time in France(I married the French teacher). A couple of years ago my wife hurt herself with a knife. I took her to the local emergency room where she was stitched up, Checked that her tetanus vaccination was up to date, etc. The WHOLE bill(no insurance) was 82 euros(about $90 at the time). This is typical.
    The care is just as good as here, every citizen is covered and they spend much less to do it.
    All the horror stories you hear about the health care systems in other countries are from those in this country getting rich from the rest of us. I know lots of French people who are scared to travel to the US because they fear they may get sick and be bankrupted if it happens here.
    The doctors are generally self employed, it is not socialized medicine.
    If we just had health care like Switzerland(the second most expensive in the world) everybody would be covered and every man woman and child would be $5000 richer every year! We spend way too much and get nothing for it!
    Thanks for reading my rant

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted June 4, 2020 at 3:39 pm | Permalink

      Canadians never travel to the US unless we have private health insurance bought for the trip. It used to be our provincial health care system would pay for any bad things that happened if you were just across the border for a day but they’ve started to claw back on that so if you don’t have work coverage, you need to make sure that a quick day trip involves getting some insurance because if you have a heart attack or get in a car accident you could end up bankrupt.

  28. aljones909
    Posted June 3, 2020 at 5:28 pm | Permalink

    I’m happy to have someone correct me if this is not the case.
    I’ve seen stats which showed that the U.S. government spent about as much on healthcare (%GDP) as other western nations. The difference is that other countries get universal healthcare for this spend.

    • wetherjeff
      Posted June 3, 2020 at 7:09 pm | Permalink

      Yes, this is true, and more besides. I’m not an expert on US healthcare, but I would encourage anyone interested in this issue to listen to an excellent Dan Carlin podcast: http://dts.podtrac.com/redirect.mp3/traffic.libsyn.com/dancarlin/cswdcd14.mp3 . It is 3 years old, but not much has changed since then. He explores the cost of US healthcare, asks why it is the most expensive system in the world and why the outcomes don’t match the price tag.

      The conclusion, as you might expect, is that the patient’s interests are the last thing to be considered. The system is designed to benefit financial interests of the commercial entities involved. It also ensures that politicians and their families enjoy the best medical insurance available. It’s inexcusable that they choose to forget this when deciding on healthcare provision for others. Profitability matters, the patient most certainly doesn’t.

      • Randall Schenck
        Posted June 3, 2020 at 7:21 pm | Permalink

        People might also be interested to know that Congress is exempt from Social Security. They have always been out of system. They do have a great pension however so there is no need for petty things like social security. There health care is the best. Actually, today in America, working for the government is almost the only place that still has real pension plans. That would be federal or at state level.

  29. Posted June 3, 2020 at 5:32 pm | Permalink

    In Australia a visit to the emergency section of a hospital would have cost exactly $0.

    I guess it costs a lot to live in the ‘land of free’, unfortunately.

    rz

  30. aljones909
    Posted June 3, 2020 at 5:36 pm | Permalink

    One downside to the NHS. I’m thinking about getting a problematic “mole” removed. I’d have to wait an indeterminate time to get this fixed by the NHS (6 months, a year, 18 months..). As soon as private clinics are working again I’ll get it done. Why wait to fix something that could be “nasty” (euphemism for cancerous)?
    I’ll have to pay the whole cost myself (medical insurance became too costly for me to continue with it).

    • rickflick
      Posted June 3, 2020 at 8:41 pm | Permalink

      If they delay treatment it probably means the mole is benign. Otherwise, wouldn’t they operate asap? I can see delays for cosmetic stuff when the system is working near the limit.

  31. vaughan
    Posted June 4, 2020 at 12:21 am | Permalink

    ProfC.Catt:VanGough EmulationSaga.
    In Australia there would have been no cost wahatsoever

  32. Posted June 4, 2020 at 1:49 am | Permalink

    I moved to China 5 months ago, after spending 21 years in the US. For comparison, here is a similar example from my own experience.
    A few days ago, when running along the lake after work, an insect (probably a mosquito) crashed onto my right eye, as it often happens when running at night close to water. I blinked a few times and then forgot about it. After coming home I washed my eye abundantly under running water. When going to bed, I realized that closing my eye was extremely painful. As long as my eye was open it was OK, but keeping my eye closed was unbearable. I washed again my eye under water for a long time and finally managed to sleep. The next morning was not much better, every blinking was very painful. When my colleagues saw me struggling they told me to go to the hospital (I thought it would get better by itself). A colleague drove me and served as an interpreter. At the hospital, everyone was wearing a mask and our temperature was checked at the entrance. After checking in we were directed to the ophthalmology section in another floor. An ophthalmologist was directly available, so there was no wait. After examining me, he immediately noticed that I had a piece of insect wing stuck under my eyelid. He gave me a topical anesthetic and removed the insect material using a sterile needle. He also prescribed antibiotic drops to take for a week. He was very friendly, professional and effective, he even could speak good English. We then went to the pharmacy section, another floor in the same hospital, to get the drops. I paid with my phone using a QR code, as all payments are done in China. The total time at the hospital was less than 20 minutes. The total amount I paid (full price) was CNY94, which is about $13 in USD, including the medicine and everything else. Most of it will be reimbursed by my insurance.
    I must say that I was impressed. The full price (before insurance) is a fraction of the out of pocket (after insurance) in the US. Not to mention the waiting time (maybe I just got lucky on that one).

    Sorry if this comment is duplicated, I just can’t see it on the page…

  33. Posted June 6, 2020 at 8:45 pm | Permalink

    Sorry for popping in here so late, but I wanted to add a personal note. My husband was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer (thought to be lung, but not for sure) that had metastasized
    to seven of his bones in April or May of 2014. He received chemotherapy until the latter part of 2015. He also had two weeks of radiation. And, in the last few months, he
    had to have a device inserted in his chest wall to drain fluid build up every few days or so that was applying pressure against his lungs. I don’t remember at this point what I pay annually for medical coverage; $2, 000 or $3,000. I have Medicare and a Supplemental Plan F. There are no copays and all the charges throughout his treatment were covered. The chemicals for chemotherapy, and the chemotherapy, ran between $30,000 to $50,000 a session, if I remember correctly. He had chemo every month or so until the end of 2015 and he died in January of 2016. Not being persons of great wealth, if we hadn’t had “Obamacare” we would have gone bankrupt.

    • rickflick
      Posted June 6, 2020 at 9:27 pm | Permalink

      Well, as sad as this story is, it does give one a bit of hope for future improvements. Obamacare can be expanded in Bidencare. Maybe.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted June 6, 2020 at 10:34 pm | Permalink

      I’m sorry to hear this story. I’m glad you weren’t bankrupt but I wish no one had to ever think about the cost of healthcare anywhere in the world. I think it would go a long way in making the world a better place for everyone.


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