Michael Snyder, Contributor
The fastest way to go broke in America is to go to the hospital. These days it seems like almost everyone has an outrageous hospital bill story to share. It is getting to the point where most people are deathly afraid to go to the hospital. All the financial progress that you have made in recent years can literally be wiped out in just a matter of hours. For example, you are about to read about an Arizona woman that was recently charged $83,046 for a 3 hour hospital visit.
How in the world is anyone supposed to pay a bill like that? I have a really hard time understanding why a visit to the doctor should ever be more than a couple hundred bucks or why a hospital stay should ever be more than a couple thousand dollars. Outrageous hospital bills are a real pet peeve of mine and I have not even been to the hospital in ages. What makes all of this even more infuriating is that Medicare, Medicaid and the big insurance companies are often charged less than 10 percent of what the rest of us are billed for the same procedures.
There is a reason why 41 percent of all working-age Americans are struggling with medical debt right now. It is because our health care system has become a giant money-making scam. Millions of desperate Americans go into hospitals each year assuming that they will be treated fairly, but in the end they get stuck with incredibly outrageous bills and in many cases cruel debt collection techniques are employed against them if they don’t pay.
So why do we have to pay so much for medical care?
Back in 1980, less than 10 percent of U.S. GDP went to health care. Today, about 18 percent of U.S. GDP goes toward health care.
And considering the fact that over the next 20 years the number of Americans 65 years of age or older is projected to double that number is going to go even higher.
On a per capita basis we spend about twice as much on health care as anyone else in the world.
In fact, if the U.S. health care system was a nation it would be the 6th largest economy on the entire planet.
America spent 2.47 trillion dollars on health care in 2009, and it is now being projected that we will spend 4.5 trillion dollars on health care in 2019.
Our system is completely and totally broken, and Obamacare is going to make things far worse. We need to throw the entire system out and start over.
A perfect example of why this is true is what happened when 52-year-old Marcie Edmonds went in to a hospital in Arizona recently to get treated for a scorpion sting….
With the help of a friend, she called Poison Control and was advised to go to the nearest hospital that had scorpion antivenom, Chandler Regional Medical Center. At the hospital, an emergency room doctor told her about the antivenom, called Anascorp, that could quickly relieve her symptoms. Edmonds said the physician never talked with her about the cost of the drug or treatment alternatives.
Her symptoms subsided after she received two doses of the drug Anascorp through an IV, and she was discharged from the hospital in about three hours.
Weeks later, she received a bill for $83,046 from Chandler Regional Medical Center. The hospital, owned by Dignity Health, charged her $39,652 per dose of Anascorp.
What makes this even more shocking is that hospitals in Mexico only charge $100 per dose of Anascorp.
These days many hospitals will do whatever they can get away with on hospital bills.
One NBC News reporter was absolutely stunned at the bill that she received after she went in for neck surgery for degenerative disc disease recently….
Once I got my itemized bill, the grand total was a little over $66,013.40! That was for a one night stay and a four level vertebrae fusion surgery. The charges included $22 for one sleeping pill, $427 for one dissecting tool, and $32,000 for four titanium plates and ten screws.
I brought it to Todd Hill, a fee based patient advocate who helps people decipher their medical bills. ‘The screws in your procedure were billed at $605 a piece for a total of $6050 dollars. We’ve seen those in our past research for $25 or $30,’ he said. ‘In this case, the markup is tremendous,’ he added.
Considering the fact that 77 percent of American families are living paycheck to paycheck at least part of the time, a single hospital bill like this can be a financial death blow.
If you have time, read this tragic story where one man was charged $11,000 and all he had was a case of bad indigestion. Nothing was even wrong with him and now his family is going to have to declare bankruptcy.
Often medical bills are so complex and so confusing that nobody can really understand them. Much of the time this is probably done on purpose to keep people from understanding how badly they are being overcharged. The following is from a recent article in the New York Times….