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As some of you may know, our son-in-law recently passed away after a stay in two Spectrum Hospitals. He had no medical or hospital insurance. He was on special injection, copaxone, to slow down the progress of his Multiple Sclerosis which cost him $198 for a 30 day supply. The copaxone medication was taken to the hospitals with him so he could receive the injections while hospitalized.

Upon his death our daughter received a bill from the Spectrum Memorial Hospital in Ludington, Michigan. She requested an itemized statement from the Ludington hospital and it showed a charge for the copaxone medication of something like $138 per injection; as if the hospital had supplied the copaxone themselves. She called the hospital and they told her that it would be subtracted from the bill; sorry for the error.

Then she received a bill from the Spectrum Butterworth Hospital in Grand Rapids, Michigan. It totaled over $50,000. She called them and asked for an itemized statement of the charges. The itemized bill showed a three time charge of $10,000 for the copaxone; as if the hospital had supplied the copaxone themselves. That is an erroneous charge of $30,000 to cover three injections for which he had already paid and supplied for himself at $6.60 an injection. She called this hospital and was told that they would have to "discuss" it with the billing department and it might take up to two weeks to hear the results. Discussion, what discussion? The hospital was supplied with the copaxone and their billing for it at $10,000 a shot is ABSOLUTELY OUTRAGEOUS!!

Think about it. This represents over half of the bill. If he had insurance, if would have been billed to the insurance company immediately and probably paid by now. How can these hospitals get away with all this 'erroneous' billing for unfounded charges? THIS IS WHAT IS WRONG WITH OUR HOSITAL CARE SYSTEM!!! They seem to go unchecked with all the fees they are charging. I mean, come on now, $30,000 for injections that only cost $19.80.

 

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Hospitals have a tendency to resort to fraudulent means as they seek to post higher profits. It's common all across the world and they may bill you for equipment that was never used, which is what I received once, medications that they never supplied, as you have observed, or even consulting that was never provided. Often, they prescribe things that aren't needed, although you can't blame them when they are simply covering themselves legally.

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Outrageous, yes. Uncommon, no. It seems every one who gets an itemized list of their hospital charges finds these kinds of things. Like Doctors who you don't even know walk in your room, glance at your chart walk out and charge you $150. And $7 aspirins. Now there's a mark up for you! I could get a bottle of 100 aspirins at Dollar General store for $1! And we wonder why the cost of health care is so astronomical! My own bill for less than 1 day in the hospital was $20,000. It is unbelievable the stunts they try to pull.

 

I am sure eventually they will find in your favor, but they are just dragging it out now to see if they can get away with it anyway. Hang in there and don't cut them any slack. Threaten to sue them for fraud if all else fails.

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Some parts of the world have a maximum retail price associated with just about any product that you buy over the counter. However, when a hospital charges you for something like Aspirins, the maximum retail price no longer applies because they are providing a service - they have somebody carrying the pills in a container or a plate along with a glass of water and they provide you with a combined bill for the service and the product. This is similar to when you go to a restaurant and they bring you a can of Coke and they insist on opening the can and pouring it into a glass - if all they did was place the can on your table, it would be the sale of a product, which is why they make it a point to ask you if they can open the can and pour the drink. However, what price they set on the combined product and service is their business decision so if they choose to make money off their patients, then that's just the way they do business. Legally, there is little that can be done unless the government includes regulations to limit the price that is set on the services bundled with products.
Some hospitals charge a registration fee because as soon as you enter as a patient, they have you fill up a form and they maintain a file containing your information. One of the really expensive services that healthcare providers charge for is a magnetic resonance imaging scan. The price is apparently because the equipment costs quite a lot and they have to recover the costs from each time they charge for the use of the equipment. Again, the equipment is like an electronic device - its price cannot be regulated by government agencies just like they cannot regulate the price of the Apple iPhone. The manufacturer can set any price on the equipment and the hospitals have to pay for the equipment if they hope to offer services related to its use.

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I still find it beyond imagination that a hospital can charge whatever they like for things. I understand the "services" they render in connection with medication distribution, but really now, does the markup need to pay the nurses salary for the whole day? The padding of bills with all these unwarranted charges has to be governed by some body of government; wether it be at the state or federal level.

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Mich,
Private hospitals are businesses and so they can set their own prices. People who are willing to pay for the service will go to the hospital no matter what they charge. The widespread availability of healthcare insurance has only driven the prices at hospitals higher. It is understood that you would have insurance if you are walking into a hospital. If you do not have insurance, then you better have a really thick purse to lighten on your way out. Government-run hospitals are an alternative for those who cannot afford the prices set by private hospitals. These hospitals usually have poorer standards of cleanliness and the staff is usually rude. The government-run hospitals are essentially just places where you want to spend as little time as possible - all you want is to get your prescription or medications and head out as soon as you can. Privately run hospitals try to keep you in the hospital for longer with a pleasant environment, a cafe for refreshments, and additional services such as valet parking, gift shops, and a mini-mart. In some parts of the world, all hospitals are run by the government and you do not really have to shell out as much for medical services, though not everybody is happy with such an arrangement.

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Yes, they can set their own prices, however, in any other case where services are deemed a necessity, the government is not hesitant to step in and deal with price gouging. Any number of businesses were changed after drastically raising prices after natural disasters all over the country, from hurricanes and tornado's to floods. Many companies were taken to court and fined. The government also regulates all types of utilities like electric and telephones and does not allow these companies to make outlandish charges. Even oil companies are regulated to some extent, hard as that may be to believe with the high cost of gas today. So I can't help but wonder why the government will do nothing about the insane costs of health care. Other than of course, to implement Obama care. Which just screws up everything.

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In industries where there is complete privatization, the service providers are regulated as is the case with the oil and gas industry, power generation industry, and utilities. However, when providing healthcare in both government-operated and private organizations, there is less of a need to regulate the service providers. People who can afford to pay the higher bills and want to have a luxurious stay, which seems more like a hotel at some point than a hospital, at the in-patient wards of the hospital would choose the better private hospitals whereas those who cannot afford the bills would choose government-run hospitals, which people would prefer to avoid staying at as much as they can. At times, there are private hospitals that attempt to fill in the gap between the two, though these tend to be clinics rather than hospitals.

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People who can afford to pay the higher bills and want to have a luxurious stay, which seems more like a hotel at some point than a hospital, at the in-patient wards of the hospital would choose the better private hospitals whereas those who cannot afford the bills would choose government-run hospitals, which people would prefer to avoid staying at as much as they can. At times, there are private hospitals that attempt to fill in the gap between the two, though these tend to be clinics rather than hospitals.

Nitin,

 

You have to realize that this man had no choice as he was taken to the nearest hospital when 911 was called. Since the first hospital was a "critical care" Spectrum Hospital he was transfered to the Spectrum Hospital that would better serve his condition.

 

UPDATE: A $30,000 credit was taken from the original bill. I guess my daughter's phone calls stirred up a hornet's nest as now the hospital staff is having a big meeting to find out how everything came down the way it did. The only thing that doesn't seem to be on the adgenda is why such an exorbitant price for the medication. But then, all we care about at this point is the credit. :)

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Wow! That would never happen here in Canada. The Universal Health Care system we have is paid for directly by the Provinces (States) and users do not receive any bill. I have only ever had to pay for a small number of pills I received to take while I was at home.

 

And as an aside to the Topic, Mich, I am sorry to hear of your loss. Kindly forward my condolences to the rest of the family.

Wow! That would never happen here in Canada. The Universal Health Care system we have is paid for directly by the Provinces (States) and users do not receive any bill. I have only ever had to pay for a small number of pills I received to take while I was at home.

 

And as an aside to the Topic, Mich, I am sorry to hear of your loss. Kindly forward my condolences to the rest of the family.

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I will, Jim. My daughter is doing as well as can be expected with this being her first holiday season without her husband. We and his family are keeping her as busy as possible.

 

And as an aside to the Topic, Mich, I am sorry to hear of your loss. Kindly forward my condolences to the rest of the family.

 

I will, Jim, and thanks for the thought. Our daughter is doing as well as can be expected with this being her first holiday season without her husband. We and his family are keeping her as busy as possible.

 

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