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My 2 hour trip to the ER yesterday morning cost over $4500


Swami57
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I threw my back out last Monday and called my GP who prescribed Flexeril over the phone. I go through this every few years so I'm familiar with the drill. Rest, Heat , meds and I'm usually good to go in a few days. The pain worsened however and my usual Loratb script wouldn't touch it. I can usually find a comfortable enough position to allow sleep but not this time. After 3 days of no sleep and my pain holding steady between 8 and 10, I headed to the ER Saturday morning.

I mentioned to the ER Doc that My mother had several Abdominal aneurysms repaired that had manifested themselves as lower back pain and this was a concern to me because of our shared medical history with heart disease. He ordered bloodwork and a CT scan. Nothing looked unusual so he gave me a shot of morphine and a script for some hillbilly heroin and sent me on my way.

While signing my discharge papers I noticed my quick trip to the ER had cost me over $4500, most of which went for the cost of the CT scan. Of course my insurance will pay for most of this. Is it just me or does this seem a bit like highway robbery? The CT scan procedure itself took less than 5 minutes. Can anyone out there in medical field justify this cost to me?

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I threw my back out last Monday and called my GP who prescribed Flexeril over the phone. I go through this every few years so I'm familiar with the drill. Rest, Heat , meds and I'm usually good to go in a few days. The pain worsened however and my usual Loratb script wouldn't touch it. I can usually find a comfortable enough position to allow sleep but not this time. After 3 days of no sleep and my pain holding steady between 8 and 10, I headed to the ER Saturday morning.

I mentioned to the ER Doc that My mother had several Abdominal aneurysms repaired that had manifested themselves as lower back pain and this was a concern to me because of our shared medical history with heart disease. He ordered bloodwork and a CT scan. Nothing looked unusual so he gave me a shot of morphine and a script for some hillbilly heroin and sent me on my way.

While signing my discharge papers I noticed my quick trip to the ER had cost me over $4500, most of which went for the cost of the CT scan. Of course my insurance will pay for most of this. Is it just me or does this seem a bit like highway robbery? The CT scan procedure itself took less than 5 minutes. Can anyone out there in medical field justify this cost to me?

Your insurance will settle with the hospital for a much lower amount.

A colleague of mine has serious chronic back issues and has had many surgeries to deal with it. The hospital bills she has are ridiculous: $5 a pill for advil, $10 for a tampon, etc.

I don't know why hospitals put those exorbitant, trumped-up prices on their bills, but I know insurance companies don't pay nearly that amount. My question is if they'd work on the price with an uninsured person.

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A friend of mine went to the hospital in an ambulance, got either a CT scan or CAT scan, then was in the hospital for about 5-6 days, i think the first day or two being in the ICU and the rest being in a normal room. No surgery or anything, just a stay, an ambulance ride, some meds (painkillers mostly I think), and a scan. It was supposedly somewhere in the area of 13,000-15,000 dollars.

Kind of hard to believe that with insurance he paid a big chunk of change, and without insurance he would have been bankrupt/in dept for a long time over a 6 day hospital stay with no surgery.

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And that's exactly the way healthcare wants it. They want to take every penny you have, so you won't be able to afford healthcare for the next time you get hurt. It's ******** how our healthcare industry works. And some people say that universal healthcare would be socialist. :lol: I don't see them complaining about how public schools and libraries are socialists. Universal healthcare is the way to go, whether you believe it or not. And I mean true universal healthcvare, not this knock-off ******** Obama is trying to enforce.

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So i'm an ER Doc, maybe I can help answer your question a little. the cost of the CT scan includes the radiologist reading the scan, the tech running the machine, the iv dye they use to image your blood vessels, the nurse to monitor you and transport you, even the housecleaners to clean the room when you're done. most of the cost is of course to the radiologist, but understand what you're paying for: a board certified radiologist spent 13 years of secondary education to gain the ability to interpret the images. they are looking for the size of your aorta in this instance, but if they miss a liver mass, prostate cancer, gallstones, kidney stones, infections, etc etc etc then they are liable / likely to be sued or even lose their license. you're also paying for the ER doctor who has to essentially make sure you don't have ANY serious illness, be it an aneurysm or brain cancer or leukemia, whatever. it's frustrating that your visit was quick and the end result was just some pain meds, but I'm assuming that your docs were competent and a lot more thought went into your care than you might realize. and at least you now have piece of mind that you had a normal ct scan (better than finding something bad!)

plus, as stated above, what you're charged is not what the hospital expects to get paid.

but more importantly, this is what's wrong with healthcare in this country. ER's have to see everyone and give them the best treatment available, no matter if they pay or not. most people don't. but every hospital is forced to have an ER that is open 24 hours a day anyway. and of course, everyone is welcome to sue any doctor or hospital for any amount of money. this is sort of like having a restaurant and having people off the street come in constantly and eat for free. everyone agrees this is fair because you have food and people need to eat. then the people eating for free are able to sue you and take the business you've spent your entire life to build. sounds fair huh? so anyway, the hospital has to make ends meet by overcharging those that can pay or have insurance.

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I threw my back out last Monday and called my GP who prescribed Flexeril over the phone. I go through this every few years so I'm familiar with the drill. Rest, Heat , meds and I'm usually good to go in a few days. The pain worsened however and my usual Loratb script wouldn't touch it. I can usually find a comfortable enough position to allow sleep but not this time. After 3 days of no sleep and my pain holding steady between 8 and 10, I headed to the ER Saturday morning.

I mentioned to the ER Doc that My mother had several Abdominal aneurysms repaired that had manifested themselves as lower back pain and this was a concern to me because of our shared medical history with heart disease. He ordered bloodwork and a CT scan. Nothing looked unusual so he gave me a shot of morphine and a script for some hillbilly heroin and sent me on my way.

While signing my discharge papers I noticed my quick trip to the ER had cost me over $4500, most of which went for the cost of the CT scan. Of course my insurance will pay for most of this. Is it just me or does this seem a bit like highway robbery? The CT scan procedure itself took less than 5 minutes. Can anyone out there in medical field justify this cost to me?

Sounds about right, I had back surgery was about 30K in the end. I also have a bro thats a ANES doc and he was a ER DOC and a sis thats a nurse Anes. I had to go to the ER one time and my sister told me go to the front of the hospital and tell them your problem, and i was likes its a emergency, she said, and this is TRUE I went thru it, they really give you the same care either way, but just going thru the ER door is 500$ more just because you went to the ER. I went to the front told them my problems, boom I saw a doctor. Either way it was the same care. I could still walk, but you really have to classify emergency.

As far as the Cat scan its about right, I have had Epidurals that are about 1500, but I have a doctor that does them at his pain clinic for about 450, same doctor, but he told me the hostpital collect 1050 just because you had it done there, its a racket for the same care.

90% of the problems of health coverage is not the doctors, they deserve to get paid what they ask, the hostpitals on the other hand are highway robbers. 5$ for a aspirin is bullsh-t. Even My brother and sister in the Health industry agree.

Hope you feel better, I'm bout to get another epidural, back pain sux. :(

Could you imagine if they had a bar in a hospital? 25$ for a drink. :P

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Sounds about right, I had back surgery was about 30K in the end. I also have a bro thats a ANES doc and he was a ER DOC and a sis thats a nurse Anes. I had to go to the ER one time and my sister told me go to the front of the hospital and tell them your problem, and i was likes its a emergency, she said, and this is TRUE I went thru it, they really give you the same care either way, but just going thru the ER door is 500$ more just because you went to the ER. I went to the front told them my problems, boom I saw a doctor. Either way it was the same care. I could still walk, but you really have to classify emergency.

As far as the Cat scan its about right, I have had Epidurals that are about 1500, but I have a doctor that does them at his pain clinic for about 450, same doctor, but he told me the hostpital collect 1050 just because you had it done there, its a racket for the same care.

90% of the problems of health coverage is not the doctors, they deserve to get paid what they ask, the hostpitals on the other hand are highway robbers. 5$ for a aspirin is bullsh-t. Even My brother and sister in the Health industry agree.

Hope you feel better, I'm bout to get another epidural, back pain sux. :(

Could you imagine if they had a bar in a hospital? 25$ for a drink. :P

You can prescribe beer if a alcoholic patient is going into DT's from going cold turkey on booze.

You can die from cold turkey alcohol withdrawal if you are a heavy enough boozer.

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So i'm an ER Doc, maybe I can help answer your question a little. the cost of the CT scan includes the radiologist reading the scan, the tech running the machine, the iv dye they use to image your blood vessels, the nurse to monitor you and transport you, even the housecleaners to clean the room when you're done. most of the cost is of course to the radiologist, but understand what you're paying for: a board certified radiologist spent 13 years of secondary education to gain the ability to interpret the images. they are looking for the size of your aorta in this instance, but if they miss a liver mass, prostate cancer, gallstones, kidney stones, infections, etc etc etc then they are liable / likely to be sued or even lose their license. you're also paying for the ER doctor who has to essentially make sure you don't have ANY serious illness, be it an aneurysm or brain cancer or leukemia, whatever. it's frustrating that your visit was quick and the end result was just some pain meds, but I'm assuming that your docs were competent and a lot more thought went into your care than you might realize. and at least you now have piece of mind that you had a normal ct scan (better than finding something bad!)

plus, as stated above, what you're charged is not what the hospital expects to get paid.

but more importantly, this is what's wrong with healthcare in this country. ER's have to see everyone and give them the best treatment available, no matter if they pay or not. most people don't. but every hospital is forced to have an ER that is open 24 hours a day anyway. and of course, everyone is welcome to sue any doctor or hospital for any amount of money. this is sort of like having a restaurant and having people off the street come in constantly and eat for free. everyone agrees this is fair because you have food and people need to eat. then the people eating for free are able to sue you and take the business you've spent your entire life to build. sounds fair huh? so anyway, the hospital has to make ends meet by overcharging those that can pay or have insurance.

Sounds like standard pro-tort reform BS to me. The purpose of a CAT in a back injury is to diagnose the extent of said back injury, not run PSA tests and speculate about liver damage. Insurance companies are the ENTIRE source of problems as far as tort reform/overpriced med-mal insurace goes. The fact that insurers won't give their customers a fair settlement without hiring PI attorneys who take a third makes no difference.

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So i'm an ER Doc, maybe I can help answer your question a little. the cost of the CT scan includes the radiologist reading the scan, the tech running the machine, the iv dye they use to image your blood vessels, the nurse to monitor you and transport you, even the housecleaners to clean the room when you're done. most of the cost is of course to the radiologist, but understand what you're paying for: a board certified radiologist spent 13 years of secondary education to gain the ability to interpret the images. they are looking for the size of your aorta in this instance, but if they miss a liver mass, prostate cancer, gallstones, kidney stones, infections, etc etc etc then they are liable / likely to be sued or even lose their license. you're also paying for the ER doctor who has to essentially make sure you don't have ANY serious illness, be it an aneurysm or brain cancer or leukemia, whatever. it's frustrating that your visit was quick and the end result was just some pain meds, but I'm assuming that your docs were competent and a lot more thought went into your care than you might realize. and at least you now have piece of mind that you had a normal ct scan (better than finding something bad!)

plus, as stated above, what you're charged is not what the hospital expects to get paid.

but more importantly, this is what's wrong with healthcare in this country. ER's have to see everyone and give them the best treatment available, no matter if they pay or not. most people don't. but every hospital is forced to have an ER that is open 24 hours a day anyway. and of course, everyone is welcome to sue any doctor or hospital for any amount of money. this is sort of like having a restaurant and having people off the street come in constantly and eat for free. everyone agrees this is fair because you have food and people need to eat. then the people eating for free are able to sue you and take the business you've spent your entire life to build. sounds fair huh? so anyway, the hospital has to make ends meet by overcharging those that can pay or have insurance.

So as an ER doc, what do you think about a government option or a single payer system?

As a complete outsider, throwing aside malpractice and tort law, obviously a large portion of the problems with healthcare come from the fact that there's a large amount of people not paying bills and that money is going to have to be made up one way or another elsewhere. It seems like the way that money is currently made up by the system is overcharging both uninsured people paying out of their pockets as well as insurance companies, of course giving them a higher incentive to find a way not to pay the (artificially) high bills and drop coverage on their clients. Seeing as freeloaders are always going to exist and the general population are currently and will always have to shoulder their load, wouldn't it be logical to have people pay into that debt by an organized system and not by paying higher hospital/insurance bills?

While I guess the issue of if a government run system can operate at a high enough efficiency to do that effectively probably comes into play real fast, it just seems like having taxpayers foot the bill upfront would be easier than having the hospital try to take the money themselves by making it up here and there.

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If only there was something in place so that everyone had some type of coverage...

If only people paid their bills...

Sounds like standard pro-tort reform BS to me. The purpose of a CAT in a back injury is to diagnose the extent of said back injury, not run PSA tests and speculate about liver damage. Insurance companies are the ENTIRE source of problems as far as tort reform/overpriced med-mal insurace goes. The fact that insurers won't give their customers a fair settlement without hiring PI attorneys who take a third makes no difference.

If you read the OP, my understanding is that the CT was ordered after he told the physician about the medical history including his mom having aneurysms.

That being said, last summer I had to goto the ER after having stepped on a nail one night. I hadn't had a tetanus shot in close to 10 years, so it was the safe bet. Well.. a few months later, I get a notice from the collection agency over this visit. My insurance company denied payment on this because they didn't have "accident information." This was a huge "welcome to the real world" for me seeing how these companies do operate.

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If only people paid their bills...

Self responsibility??? Nooooooo

And to answer the next dumbass post...I went to the ER with chest pains about four years ago and my bill was about $4,000. I sent them anywhere from $5 - $50 a month for about 18 months and they sent me a letter asking for $116 as a last bill, if people would just attempt to make right they wouldn't try to rob the insurance companies

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Self responsibility??? Nooooooo

And to answer the next dumbass post...I went to the ER with chest pains about four years ago and my bill was about $4,000. I sent them anywhere from $5 - $50 a month for about 18 months and they sent me a letter asking for $116 as a last bill, if people would just attempt to make right they wouldn't try to rob the insurance companies

99.9% of hospitals are more than willing to work with patients on bills. Will gladly set up payment plans, discounts, and most even offer charity assistance to patients. I know this, because this is what I do for a living. You would not believe the amount of people that would rather have the bill go to collections rather than see if they qualify for assistance.

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So i'm an ER Doc, maybe I can help answer your question a little. the cost of the CT scan includes the radiologist reading the scan, the tech running the machine, the iv dye they use to image your blood vessels, the nurse to monitor you and transport you, even the housecleaners to clean the room when you're done. most of the cost is of course to the radiologist, but understand what you're paying for: a board certified radiologist spent 13 years of secondary education to gain the ability to interpret the images. they are looking for the size of your aorta in this instance, but if they miss a liver mass, prostate cancer, gallstones, kidney stones, infections, etc etc etc then they are liable / likely to be sued or even lose their license. you're also paying for the ER doctor who has to essentially make sure you don't have ANY serious illness, be it an aneurysm or brain cancer or leukemia, whatever. it's frustrating that your visit was quick and the end result was just some pain meds, but I'm assuming that your docs were competent and a lot more thought went into your care than you might realize. and at least you now have piece of mind that you had a normal ct scan (better than finding something bad!)

plus, as stated above, what you're charged is not what the hospital expects to get paid.

but more importantly, this is what's wrong with healthcare in this country. ER's have to see everyone and give them the best treatment available, no matter if they pay or not. most people don't. but every hospital is forced to have an ER that is open 24 hours a day anyway. and of course, everyone is welcome to sue any doctor or hospital for any amount of money. this is sort of like having a restaurant and having people off the street come in constantly and eat for free. everyone agrees this is fair because you have food and people need to eat. then the people eating for free are able to sue you and take the business you've spent your entire life to build. sounds fair huh? so anyway, the hospital has to make ends meet by overcharging those that can pay or have insurance.

Our system is totally f'd in the a. Something needs to be done.

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Sounds to me like you should have waited and gone to see your regular Doc. The emergency room is not where you diagnose a problem like this. I would also take some stock in your physical fitness plan and incorporate some excercise's to include abdominal and lower back excercises. Stretching and or a Pilates type routine would also go a long way. If the Car(your body) your driving is breaking down, shore it up.

:lol::lol::lol:

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Sounds to me like you should have waited and gone to see your regular Doc. The emergency room is not where you diagnose a problem like this. I would also take some stock in your physical fitness plan and incorporate some excercise's to include abdominal and lower back excercises. Stretching and or a Pilates type routine would also go a long way. If the Car(your body) your driving is breaking down, shore it up.

if he was concerned he had a aneurysm then he went to the right place. All the Pilates in the world wont save you if something like that ruptures.

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If only people paid their bills...

Maybe this is a chicken and egg scenario, but maybe more people would if the pricing was a little more in line.

How many of those bills do you think would get paid if the priced them the same as they do to insurance companies?

Don't you agree that there should be no difference in price on whether or not I do or don't have insurance?

Back in 2006 when I fell off a ladder and landed on a board with a nail in it, I went to the Quick med place. Payed my $25 copay, got it cleaned, x-rayed, and prescription. It didn't get better and I can hardly walk on it, and then after a month, went back. They recommended that I go to the local hospital to get an MRI done to make sure there was no tendon damage done. Get the MRI done, and they(the hospital) call back and say that there is nothing wrong. A few days later, I look in the hole in my foot and see something. I end up pulling out a piece of the bottom of my shoe that is the size of a pencil eraser. I go back in and show them what came out and ask if I should take any antibiotics. They prescribe some, and my foot heals up within a few days.

I get the bill, and after insurance, I still have to pay $1000 out of pocket for the MRI. When I call to complain and have them itemize the bill, the say that $24 of that $1000 is for reading the MRI, the other $976 is for getting the MRI done, so if I want to dispute the bill, I can only dispute the $24 portion of that. Otherwise they threaten with collections. Is that the job that you do?

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Sounds like standard pro-tort reform BS to me. The purpose of a CAT in a back injury is to diagnose the extent of said back injury, not run PSA tests and speculate about liver damage. Insurance companies are the ENTIRE source of problems as far as tort reform/overpriced med-mal insurace goes. The fact that insurers won't give their customers a fair settlement without hiring PI attorneys who take a third makes no difference.

RPS, I don't think that you are reading the posts objectively. The OP was concerned that his back pain may have been more than just his usual spine/disc disease. With his family history of Abdominal Aneurysm, he wanted to make sure that a disaster was not in the making. He went to the ER, instead of waiting to see his own doc. At the ER, the MD ordered the CT scan to look at the Aorta. However, the Radiologist must read the CT completely. That means that he/she is on the hook if there also happens to be a small shadow in the prostate, liver, pancreas, kidneys, etc. The final price tag was out of control, but someone has to pay the piper.

Health reform is absolutely needed. However, tort reform has to be part of the overall plan. Too many insurance companies and lawyers are getting rich. I don't believe in rationing medical care but I believe in rationalizing it.

Unfortunately for lawyers, it means that they will have to find their money elsewhere.

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The OP did the right thing by going to the ED in this case. With that history, you have to be worried about an aneurysm (family history, back pain unlike previous episodes). You don't stay home with that; if they rupture you have hours - not days - to get it repaired in the OR or you die. Even then, the mortality approaches 50% if you DO make it to the OR.

One thing that people are afraid is the R word. But it's coming. The population is getting older and healthcare is becoming more expensive as it gets more advanced. 15 years ago, we didn't get as many CT's, MRI's, ultrasounds and didn't give as many medicines - simply because they didn't exist. We do have the most advanced healthcare system in the world, but also the most expensive. There is only so much money to go around to pay for it all. Soon we are going to have to begin to ration what we can offer, and anyone who disagrees simply doesn't understand the reality of the situation. Hard choices ahead.

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