Study finds hospitals charge people an outrageous 340% too much for ER care.
Johns Hopkins Medicine researchers have analyzed the records of over 12,000 emergency rooms in all 50 states and discovered that prices for the same procedures varied wildly between different hospitals. Rubbing more salt on the wound, the most vulnerable, least insured, and poorest patients were often charged the highest prices.
The researchers then compared the prices charged to the amount listed by Medicare. On average, patients were billed 340 percent more for their services than the Medicare listing price.
The researchers aptly referred to the practice as “price gouging.” This has got to stop. Car wrecks are not profit centers to support the rest of the hospital.
What you can do to protect yourself from hospital price gouging
You didn’t plan to get crashed into or be rushed by ambulance to a hospital. But as soon as a car or truck ran into you and you were injured, you might not have had a choice. The photograph above shows a client’s truck after he was run off the road and severely hurt.
You likely didn’t have much say about which hospital you were taken to, whether it was in-network (if you had health insurance), whether you had met your deductible, how many doctors treated you, or what tests and treatment was provided. You couldn’t price shop and assumed that the bills would not be that much and that the other driver’s auto insurance was going to immediately pay them off. Unfortunately, that is not the case.
Prices are shrouded in mystery. Usually you don’t find out what your medical treatment costs until weeks or even months later when the bills arrive in the mail. After a few months, if they are not paid, they are sent to bill collectors, severely damaging your credit rating.
Steps you should take
Here are some tips on protecting yourself from price gouging:
- Check for mistakes. Review every medical bill carefully. You may discover double-charges or charges for services you didn’t receive.
- Stay organized. Start a folder or list that contains all of your medical bills. This will be useful in challenging a charge and also in preparing your claim for personal injury compensation.
- Ask questions. If you think the hospital made an error, ask. You have the right to know what every charge is for and to challenge charges that were made in error.
- Negotiate. If you are being billed an average of 340 percent more than they should, that leaves a lot of negotiating room. I fight to reduce excessive medical bills for my clients.
- Know what is fair. I look at medical bills every week and know what common auto accident injuries cost to treat.
I was just sent two bills by a clinic for the same visit for two different vastly inflated amounts, one listed with my full name and one with my name without the middle initial. I have threatened the clinic with a lawsuit if it doesn’t reduce the charge to a low price and eliminate the second charge. UPDATE on 10/11/17: The clinic slashed the bill and wrote off the second one with an apology.
You should get the care you need after an accident. But you shouldn’t get ripped off.
I have dedicated my 37-year law practice to recovering compensation for auto accident victims and regularly help clients with their overwhelming medical bills. If issues arise with billing or insurance reimbursement, my law firm can help you. It’s what we do, year after year.