Hospitals illegally refusing to provide itemized bills

Originally published at: Hospitals illegally refusing to provide itemized bills | Boing Boing


Essential long read for those interested in the issue. A decade old but little has changed.



While I don’t know the specifics of this emergency room, the completely faux-caring fucktastic name of the company makes me suspect that this ER is not run by the hospital it is in, but by a private equity firm. IIRC current estimates are that 40% of ERs in the United States are run by the same type of people who killed Toys R Us among other companies, so get used to being treated like the next Geoffrey.


Semi-relatedly (this is about health insurance claims rather than hospital overcharging specifically), here’s a recently published tool to assist requesting claim files.


According to Wikipedia, it’s allegedly a non-profit, but that’s still not surprising to me.
I had several rounds dealing with the both the insurance and the billing department of the ER I went to back in 2021 for an ultimately pointless (and expensive!) trip to get pain relief and a CT scan to confirm a kidney stone, because the billing department just submitted the bill to the insurance, which promptly denied it because they didn’t give pricing using a specific provider network’s billing framework. Ultimately, I got both of them on a “come to jesus” conference call and got things hashed out., which is something I should have never needed to do. That, and several of the ER providers taking upwards of a year and a half to bill me for things…

This nonsense is, sadly, not surprising AT. ALL. And it really should stop.


I’ve learned to stay out of the emergency room unless it’s, well, an emergency. A panic attack a few years ago ended up costing me $1,200. It seems like you get hit with a $900 charge just for walking through the door. These days I take my non-emergency issues to my regular doctor or a walk-in clinic if after hours. Hospital billing can be outrageous.


I have had cases where even when I get an itemized bill, for the correct procedures and total amount, the itemization isn’t broken down the same way as what they send the insurance company. Payments are credited to the wrong days and visits, things are grouped oddly. Makes tracking down any discrepancies a real mess.


This has been going on for decades and despite what anyone says nothing has changed.

When our daughter was born almost 40 years ago we had no insurance, the obstetrician required 7 grand in full by the 7th month or they wouldn’t deliver the baby. We took out our first loan together and bought our daughter on monthly payments.

There were serious comlications that required extra days for mom and baby.

At one point a doctor came into the room to examine our daughter I told him we already had a doctor caring for her, he said he was included with the hospital stay. Do not touch our daughter.

Three months later we got a $700 bill from that doctor. We tried fighting it, they turned it over to collections. Had to take out another loan.

A few months ago my wife ended up in the hospital for several days from an animal bite.

We’re getting bills from individual doctors with no explanation of what services they provided. We’re just supposed to pay.

I’ve been saying for years there should be a sign in sheet bedside for every doctor or anyone that’s going to bill. They should provide their name and service provided so we can cross check the bills.

I just had my car in for service, it needed some extensive front ended work and a new exhaust. I trust this shop so I said just do the work and let me know when it’s done.

Two days later I go pick it up with a bill for just under 2 grand. The bill was very detailed and itemized, it was easy to understand and it was required by law or they risk their license. Plus the person taking my money was able to answer any questions without me having to call 16 other people.

I paid the shop, the shop paid the mechanics and parts supplier.

Seems like hospital bills should be handled the same way.

Aaaand, the hospital should send a single itemized bill and the hospital should distribute the payments to the individual doctors and labs.

We’re paying several doctors 10 bucks a month when we could be sending a single monthly payment to a central source.


You’re wrong. You should pay your taxes and then stop worrying about getting bills for your medical costs, not cross checking billing and charges and telling doctors to go away. This is killing you guys and I die a little inside whenever I hear about it.

My wife was just diagnosed with MS and the months long process of getting a diagnosis involved seeing numerous specialists and imaging and testing appointments. I am out of pocket $0 aside from some travel costs.

You deserve better.


You are correct but there is zero chance of that happening in my lifetime unless we get the hell out.


I’m in canada and have to go in every year for an occupational medical. the doctor who sadly just retired was the only one in the province that could do all of the tests in in house (so as to not have to make multiple appointments for multiple tests spread out over 3 weeks) at a private health care centre in Vancouver. for a medical two years ago I paid the bill with the receptionist and thought I was good to go, then recieved bills for blood work from life labs and another $300 non itemized bill from the private health center. I contacted them and was told I was probably double billed but I would have to contact accounting. after several attempt to reach someone in acounting and get a call back to no avail so I left it. the next year the doctor moved his office to a new center. so when booking my medical again I of course brought up but was informed they were at a new medical centre and it was the old medical centres problem but it would not affect my booking. again no wanting to come off as a shifty dine and dasher of medical care I mentioned it to the Doctor who asked if it was the the old centre and added “yeah they’re f@#$ed.”


Once again, the legislature gets it wrong. They need to make good behavior make economic sense rather than trying to prohibit bad behavior.

Must provide an itemized bill within 30 days? What are they going to do, slap the hospital with a wet noodle? No, the law should read that if they do not provide an itemized bill within 30 days that it becomes void, the patient doesn’t owe anything.


… the law should read that the U.S. Public Health Service should take care of all this shit and it should not be on us in any way — it’s all busywork making money for grifters and middlemen :face_with_symbols_over_mouth:


I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: the United States of America does not have, and has not had for a very long time, a Health Care System.

What you have is a Protection racket founded and run by sociopathic mafiosi which has bought all the hospitals.

Going to die? Fuck you, pay me.

I am fully aware that this is not news to you.


It’s things like this that really make me want to do violence to anyone who starts harping about the ‘free market’ in the context of medicine.

It’s not to say that having one of those would be a great idea; but what we have now sort of LARPs as one when required; but lacks basic niceties like ‘price signals’ and ‘competition’.


That is 100% completely true and i have used that exact reference many times. I dont even bother with insurance. Dont have it. Cant afford it and would absolutely screwed over anyway so why bother. Unless I’m literally going to die i dont even set foot in clinic/hospital; they dont give a sh** anyway. In a rural area people tend to do their own doctorin’.


The only way that I’ve been successful in setting up such a call is by flatly stating that the only way they were going to get paid was by the insurance company and the only way the insurance company would pay them is if I was on the call.

That is a huge problem. Even if you haven’t changed jobs (and thus insurance providers), employers often change insurance providers because putting them on rotation every one or two years is hiw they keep costs lower.

So by the time you get the bill, it’s been submitted to a payer that no longer gives a fraction of the tiny little shit they gave about you when you were an active “customer. “


I have that disease too. I could write a (long, boring) novel about my medical treatment. It’s not necessary to say that I am in the U.S.


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