Ever wonder why hospital bills are so high? Consider these: Patient Jim Bujalski complained to St. Anthony’s Hospital in Littleton, CO, about the cost of his prescription Plavix and Crestor tablets, which he was forced to "buy" while hospitalized. He could not use his own medications beause the Hospital only "administers drugs under its own control". The Plavix was $248 each, (he pays $8 at home) and his Crestor was $65($3 at home). That’s a mark-up 31 times for Plavix and 21 and 2/3 for Crestor. The medications were part of his $58,000, one-day hospital stay.
Further, Medical Billing Advocates of America, a private firm that patients can hire to help consumers sort through their medical bill for errors, over-billing or outright fraud, has reported patients bills that contain a $2 box of tissues billed as a "mucus recovery system" for $12, a piece of gauze used to wipe down surgical equipment billed as a "fog eliination device" for $57, and a Teddy Bear billed as a "cough support device" for $57.
Medical Billing Advocates of Florida estimates that as many as 80% of all medical bills contain billing errors of some type but a spokesman for Humana, a health insurance company that receives about 6 million claims a month says that 90% of the bills do not contain errors. Assuming that neither advocacy group is totally correct and the difference is somewhere in between, there are certainly many, many errors made. Call me a cynic, but I can’t help but believe that the number of overbillings greatly exceed errors in the patients’ favor.