Hospital bills often send patients into shock when they see the totals, including hundreds of dollars for relatively inexpensive items, according to news reports from around the country.
According to a Dec. 2 New York Times report, a California woman and her daughter both cut themselves during an outdoor barbecue and went to the emergency room at the California Pacific Medical Center.
The woman needed three stitches, which cost $2,229.11. Her toddler's cut was sealed with a dab of skin glue for $1,696, the Times reported.
They billed for every pill, the woman said.
Citing a study by the American Medical Association, the Times said hospital charges are about the biggest single segment of overall health care costs, representing a third of the annual $2.7 trillion U.S. health care bill.
Other examples from the Times:
At Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, Daniel Diaz, 29, was billed $3,355.96 for five stitches on his finger after cutting himself while peeling an avocado.
At a hospital in Jacksonville, Fla., Arch Roberts Jr., 56, was charged more than $2,000 for three stitches after being bitten by a dog.
At Mercy Hospital in Port Huron, Mich., Chelsea Manning, 22, a student, was charged nearly $3,000 for six stitches after she tripped running up a path.
In an ABC News report Nov. 20, an Atlanta woman received a seven-page bill that totaled nearly $40,000 for gall bladder surgery.
Among other items, the hospital bill charged $15.50 for a blood pressure pill that the hospital could buy for just 3 cents.
A bag of simple IV fluids cost of $148.50. ABC News found the same bag in the hospital catalogue for $1.17.
In all, the woman stayed in the hospital for three nights and received 133 separate charges.
After extensive investigation and negotiations, the bill was lowered, but the woman still had to come up with more than $20,000 out of her own pocket.
The ABC report is HERE.
Rising costs of drugs, medical equipment and other services as well as fees from layers of middlemen contribute to escalating hospital bills. Also, hospitals tend to charge what they can, with little or no price regulation or significant competition.
Insurance companies and individuals can and do negotiate the prices downward at times, but prices often remain high enough to send patients into shock.
To read the New York Times article, click HERE.