Hospital charged a woman $5,751 for an ice-pack and a bandage

Originally published at:


Yet another example of how much better the private sector can do things than the government! (better for who? Go back to Vermont, ya commie!)


I’m of a mind to set up a Lucy from Peanuts style stand in front of a local hospital and dispense the very simplest of medical care… charge maybe a tenth of what they charge. mb I can get by on $575 for an ace bandage and icepack. I could go to maybe $550, but I have a sick mother at home I do. For you $500 as you are the nicest patient I’ve had all day. Here is a blister pack with two Ibuprofen. Now off with you, the line is getting long, don’t forget to take your copy of the waiver! k thx bye!


“The bill I’d probably incur would not be worth saving my ear, which was sad but a choice I had to make.”

As someone who has access to free-at-the-point-of-delivery healthcare, the fact that someone would even be in a position to make a decision like this is mind boggling. Especially for someone in the richest country in the world


I’ve read a couple stories on this and as far as I can see, the hospital tried to charge $5000 for the initial triage service she received.

It seems like a real Catch-22 situation. She asked if they were out of network because if they were, she was declining any treatment. But in order to determine that, she has to go through the initial triage and processing for which they charge $5000 if you are out of network.


Congress is currently buying health insurance on the ACA exchanges, and it probably could happen to a federal employee who does get regular employer insurance - i’m unaware of any immunity to balance-billing in federal health plans, so this actually absolutely could happen to one of them. Of course a hospital might avoid maximum-billing a congressperson, and $5000 would be a triviality to almost all of them…

But lets not pretend the republicans in congress are even relying on insurance at all. They are rich and powerful and insulated, but not by some imaginary federal health insurance plan, by being rich and powerful.


Going for the old ‘cause people like us don’t get no federal gubmint insurance’ is playing right into the hands of the far right. Its a race to the bottom.


I’m no longer surprised hearing about these outcomes from the sucky “free”-market health insurance system. Until the “rugged individualists” lose sway over politics the whole country will be cursed with dealing with gougers, rentiers and parasitic middlemen during what are already the worst moments of their lives.


I thought when your insurance company decides what is reasonable, then you only need to pay that, not what the provider wanted to charge. It’s a screwed up system that you need to have insurance in order to negotiate better charges, but that is how it works. At least in my experience.


Well on the positive side, the American health care system serves as a stark reminder to countries with socialized medicine that they should be grateful for what they have. As flawed as it sometimes can be, it could definitely be a lot worse.


Now that is just plain old hustlin’.


That is true if you are in network. That is the point of this. She was faced with having to pay the triage charge just to find out if they were in network or not. A true buyer beware situation. They are under no obligation to tell you up front because it is assumed to be your own responsibility to know who is in network or not.


“Can you treat me now?”


I’m a blood-red commie single-payer advocate, but…

From the original article (emphasis mine):

“It’s for the ice pack and the bandage,” Pell said of the fee. “That is the only tangible thing they could bill me for.”

So she fainted, fell, hit her head, and then got assessed at an ER where they probably checked her pupils, her lucidity, etc. to rule out, y’know, injuries to her brain, decided she did not have injuries to her brain (yay!), and gave her the small tangible items she did need. How much of the fee is for the assessment where a doctor used their time & expertise to rule out serious injury, vs. fee for some ice & a bandage?

Intangible services cost money too.


I think it depends on the provider and the insurance. If the facility and doctor are in-network, they are required to accept the negotiated amount. But if they are not, then one of the 20 forms you sign says that you are liable for all the charges, no matter what your insurance des or does not pay.

It’s obscene and immoral and unethical, and a perfect illustration of how fucked up the US Healthcare “system” is. And of course if she doesn’t pay - which is the usual and normal response to this kind of unethical gouging, they will report the bill to collections and ruin her credit.


That reminds me: I have to figure out which ERs are “in network” for me and write them on my insurance card with a sharpie, so I can refuse to be taken anywhere else in an emergency (assuming I’m conscious, that is).


And what if she was unconscious? She can’t even ask the question. But according to the GOP, we should all be taking more responsibility in our choices for health care. If you are unconscious and you can’t use your in-plan doctor, well then that’s just too bad. What a shame and what a sham.


That may be true, but she shouldn’t have to pay for these services at all. Make the 1% pay their fair share and this would not happen.