Saturday, January 19, 2013

How Much Does the U. S. Medical System Charge to Treat a Bite From a Cat?

Oh, About $55,000 Including the $16.00 Tylenol Pill

David Lazarus, a columnist for the Los Angeles Times was bitten by his cat.  Complications ensued. 

No matter the cause, I found myself last week in a bed at UCLA Medical Center in Santa Monica with an intravenous drip of antibiotics hooked up to my arm. The fact that I have Type 1 diabetes was a complicating factor.
Surgery was eventually required. And then I had to recover from that.

So now that he has recovered he has decided to tell everyone what the hospital bill was.

Call it the $55,000 cat bite.
That's the rough total in medical costs (so far) for a cat bite on my hand that turned into an infection that turned into surgery that turned into a week in the hospital. Cruddy cat.

 So what was the matter?  Well there is the $4,000.00 a night for the hospital room.  And a bunch of stuff is really inflated.

Another case in point: Sixteen bucks for a Tylenol. Actually, not even a proper Tylenol. That's for the generic equivalent.

Now the good news, at least for Mr. Lazarus (in addition to the fact that he survived being bitten by his cat) is that he had insurance.

My employer-provided insurer, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois, will cover $38,448 of the hospital bill. My total amount due: $1,504.47.
That leaves $14,212.53 unaccounted for. Feinberg said it simply has disappeared. Poof!
"It's funny money," he explained. "It's not even there."

The ‘funny money’ is of course the inflated charges that the system charges, they are real for the uninsured or the underinsured, but not real if your insurance company has a deal with the hospital.

So go ahead everyone, talk about how the United States has the best health care system in the world.  And listen to all those Republicans who say competition with private insurance, that is the system we have now, will solve all the problems.  Then figure out how a cat bite can cost $55,000 to treat.

1 comment:

  1. Here in Japan, I had a detached retina. They fixed it. Being Japan, they kept me in the hospital ridiculously long: 5 days. Being Japan, I have to pay 30% at point of service. They hit me for US$2500 or so. But Japan has a max on the per month per disease out of pocket, so they refunded half of that.

    Moving back to the US wouldn't be a particularly smart move. Sigh.