I needed to document some expenses for my '05 Health Care Spending Account at work and ordered an itemized hospital bill for my broken ankle surgery. I had heard the stories about "charging $5 for an aspirin" and didn't think much about it, until the envelope with 7 pages of expenses came in the mail yesterday.
Can you believe these charges?.............
- finger-stick blood sugar test $15
- one 250 mg tablet of oxycodone $22
- one 75 mcg tablet of synthroid $17
- one titanium plate (to hold the bones together) $560
- 5 minutes of instruction on using crutches $300
- one "Darth Vader" air cast $275
- one ace wrap $20
But the real whack upside the head was the insulin. I saw the first entry, "insulin/Humalog", $35 and thought, "well, that's pretty much in line - not too bad". Then, the same day I saw three more $35 entries. I called the billing department as I had a couple other questions and the rep said, "oh, they use a new bottle for each injection to avoid cross-contamination". A new bottle for my 3 unit dose to cover lunch? And throw the rest away? Good thing I was only there for 2 days. I then phoned my HMO case worker and we talked about this and she said this particular hospital had recently re-evaluated their policy and they were taking multiple doses from the same vial for each patient.
I had good coverage for the stay and am thankful that there was only a $500 co payment on my part. The total bill for the surgery and 2 nights was $17000. Go figure. Things do seem to be spiraling out of control in a big way and I don't know what to do about it.
It didn't help that the nursing care was fair, at best. I had asked for a toothbrush more than once and was never brought one. Beause of the diabetes I was supposed to have been sent home with detailed written instructions about wound care and inspecting the incisions along with several sets of new dressings (somebody forgot). When I was talking to the surgeon's PA after I got home, she asked how the staples looked and I told her I didn't know I was supposed to take the leg out of the boot. She said it was very important that everything be inspected 3x daily, per the "handout" so a runaway infecction didn't set in. She said to do so immediately while she was still on the line. I said "but I don't have any new bandages" and she suggested I use a minipad. I told her I was out and could I use a tampon instead? ...........she thought I was kidding; I was not.
I'm not planning on going to the hospital anytime soon, but, if so, I will ask for an itemized bill right away while things are still fresh in my mind. And I will not let my questions go unanswered.