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March 1st, 2010
09:48 AM ET

Challenging Medical Charges

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption=""] With the health care system in crisis and Congress trying to work out a solution, Americans’ health spending budgets are going through the roof. Doctors’ fees, medical supplies, and administrative costs can all contribute to skyrocketing medical bills – even if you have insurance. And fighting those charges can be a David and Goliath battle.

Our question to you: Have you ever challenged charges on a medical bill…and won?

Share your stories here. Kyra will read some of them in the 10am ET hour of Newsroom.

Filed under: Kyra Phillips
soundoff (162 Responses)
  1. michael armstrong sr.

    The best way to challenge a medical bill is not to pay it and wait for a reasonable agreement no one pays attention to credit reports from hospitals and utility companies .

    March 1, 2010 at 9:57 am |
  2. Mike

    It seems to me that the crazy charges you talked about with Ms. Cohen are criminal. Why are charges not brought against someone?

    March 1, 2010 at 10:12 am |
  3. Mark N

    This was a terrible piece of media. Clearly no research into why hospitals charge higher amounts for items. Do you ever see a charge for nursing? Who pays for that? Hospitals don't bill for nursing care, so the cost has to come from somewhere.

    March 1, 2010 at 10:12 am |
  4. nkolvek

    How about My bill from Suncaost Hospital for a $540 tounge depressor. Or one for a $270 2oz. cup of liquid motrin?

    March 1, 2010 at 10:13 am |
  5. andrea

    Why aren't these blatant over charges and blatant lies treated like fraud?

    March 1, 2010 at 10:15 am |
  6. jacqueline

    I understand that these charges are very high, however how do you think hospitals can afford to treat all the patients that can not pay?

    March 1, 2010 at 10:16 am |
  7. Ina

    I had a similar case last year when I went to the hospital for one blood test and a cat scan. The bill came over 10,000 dollars. I called the insurance company, because I thought it was insane for them to have to pay so much money for just 2 tests. The insurance representative told me not to worry because they only with pay a small portion of it. I do not know if that was the truth or not because the premium went up this year, but after listening to your conversation, I will follow up and make sure I am not paying more on the premium because of those charges.
    Thanks for your input today. Was very helpful to know and be aware of these charges happening everywhere.


    March 1, 2010 at 10:16 am |
  8. Tom Mayhew

    This has been going on for years with large hospital coporations benefiting by padding their pockets. My daughter was born almost 19 years ago. While she was in the hospital a few days old, we were charged for 11 pacifiers at a cost of $121.00 each. When I asked about the pacifiers, I was told that if a pacifier is dropped, it is thrown away and another was opened, resulting in a charge of $121 each time. The same pacifier at kmart was $2.99. Washing the one that dropeed to the floor would have been free. There is no way that the nurses that were taking care of my daughter dropped the pacifiers 10 times. It's about ime that someone looked into the practices of these hospitals.

    March 1, 2010 at 10:16 am |
  9. Caroline

    I work in the dental industry and everything you are talking about here is insurance fraud. Plain and simple, its just illegal. Report it to the insurance company and it should not be paid.

    March 1, 2010 at 10:18 am |
  10. Susan Reisman

    I went to buy a walker at the only store within 50 miles of me that works with my insurance (Horizon BCBS). I purchased the model on the floor with a pricetag of $189. My co-pay is 20%. When I got my bill from them after they submitted it to BC, my share was 20% of $360 that they had billed them. I called Horizon to tell them they were being overcharged by the store and they said they couldn't take my word for it that the price tag was $189. I told them to send someone into the store and they couldn't be bothered. Instead of my share being about $38, I owed the store $almost $70.

    March 1, 2010 at 10:18 am |
  11. Brian

    I received an itemized list of charges when I had an appendectomy. Like many other Americans, my medical charges forced me to file bankruptcy, so I didn't bother disputing any of the charges.

    However, there was a $1000 charge for a stapler and a few $100+ charges for staples. I'm sure these are the usual outrageous charges for these items, but no staples were used in my surgery!

    I left the hospital with my skin glued shut and band-aids over my incisions. It was a laparoscopic surgery, so this is probably the normal "closing" procedure, but I'm sure the stapler charges were nothing more than insurance fraud.

    March 1, 2010 at 10:18 am |
  12. mary

    I have challenged bills and have had results, but there is another aspect not covered here. My daughter was in ICU, she had an infection in a tube for continous medication infusion. There was an infection at the site, the hospital was trying to clear up the infection and not move the tube. I felt and had heard removing the tube, putting a temporary site in the arm would heal the infection sooner, the doctor argued. I called the insurance company explained my reasoning. They agreed, within the hour the doctor did what I wanted and the ICU time was cut down. The insurance company explained they were not doctors but what I said made sense. Keeping her in ICU was very expensive, and the result was exactly as I had predicted.

    March 1, 2010 at 10:18 am |
  13. Glen

    No, I have never fought a Medical Bill. Of course I have never had a Medical Bill. I live in Canada and enjoy our universal health care. We do pay an increased amount of taxes in order to cover the cost, but I dare say it isn't a 10th of what i hear that you pay for insurance coverage.
    I have to add that occasionally I get a letter from our MSI (Medical Social Insurance) office to confirm appointments and procedures preformed by the doctor (I assume to randomly audit the doctor's billings). Good Luck on getting a better system put in place!!

    March 1, 2010 at 10:19 am |
  14. TK

    I was charged $128 for 2cc of childrens tylenol, for that price you can buy a case of tylenol. I was also charded $72 for a guaze pad, they called it a surgical pac.

    March 1, 2010 at 10:19 am |
  15. mike

    why don't you do a story on how the medical profession is taking it in the shorts with a 21.2% reduction in medicare reimbursements starting march 1st? there is no other profession which has taken such a drastic pay cut and the effort to do so is on such a national scale! do you realize that 15% of the patients i care for are unfunded (we make it sound nice by calling them "private pay"). how would you like to work for free 15% of the time? Actually, in these cases I lose money to care for the private payors. Stop lumping doctors in with hospitals for outrageous medical costs. you want a crazy story? how bout the case where i took out an appendix; patient stayed in hospital overnight. my fee was $450...the bill to patient was over 10k!

    March 1, 2010 at 10:19 am |
  16. Susan Reisman

    After an operation, I got an itemized bill and was double billed for the same item. I went into the hospital and showed them the bill and they took off both items.

    March 1, 2010 at 10:19 am |
  17. M.E.

    Several years ago my 70 year old father was hospitalized with Legionnaires Disease. His hospital bill included a bill for a pap smear! His first name was Faye – the hospital must have assumed he was a woman and could scam the insurance company for the charge.

    March 1, 2010 at 10:19 am |
  18. Mildred

    Being on medicare a lot of my med's are covered two times I have called medicare because I felt the charges were overboard one a flu shot that was surpose to be 27 dollars was billed to medicare for 55 dollars (not a huge amount but more than 27 dollars.) also for my testing strips that were charged over 200.00 and sells over the counter for 60.oo .Medicare seemed to think this was ok.Most people my age as long as it gets paid for its ok .I dont feel that way because our new goverment if they have there way I may not receive any care.

    March 1, 2010 at 10:19 am |
  19. David Sprang

    A few year ago I was hospitalized for a bulging disc in my lower back. The doctor recommended a proceedure that had to be done at another hospital. I was transported to the other hospital for the proceedure and then returned to the original hospital for recuperation.
    When I received the bill, both hospitals billd for the proceedure. A cost of about $1,300. It took 9 months of calls and complaints. Finally I sent a registered letter to the CEO's office of the hospital and explained the problem. I received a check for the double payment in a week!!?

    March 1, 2010 at 10:19 am |
  20. mary

    Some of these charges are to cover the people with NO insurance, they get treatment too.

    March 1, 2010 at 10:19 am |
  21. Jennifer

    In 2004, my doctor's office forgot to get a referral for a service that I needed to have done at the local hospital in regarding to my high risk pregnancy. My doctor insisted it was fine and that I could file the claim retroactively. After I had the service, the hosptial did not submit the claim to my insurance agency and wanted me to pay the bill in full (close to $300 for a service covered completely under my insurance at the time.) My insurance company needed a claim submitted so they could reject the claim and start an appeal process. The hosptial did not want the claim "rejected" and told me "we would rather just have you pay the bill upfront." This dispute went on for over a year! I had to get the Insurance Commission involved and ultimately they determined that what the hospital was doing was illegal. They were forced to submit and claim and I was absolved of all charges.

    March 1, 2010 at 10:19 am |
  22. BJ

    My insurance company refused to pay for the removal of moles/skin tags, saying it was a cosmetic procedure. My doctor had been quite specific in stating that the areas were irritated and the moles/skin tags had to be removed. I disputed the charge - twice - ending up on a 5-way conference call between 2 doctors, a nurse, a rep from the insurance company, and me. The medical professionals were thoroughly disgusted that the insurance co. had denied paying this tiny amount ($86) two times, when the procedure was clearly contraindicated by my doctor. To me, it was the principle of the issue. BTW, I won!

    March 1, 2010 at 10:20 am |
  23. Deb Shalosky

    This has been going on for a long time. 10 years ago, my then 14 yr. old son went to the ER to have a 1 in. cut in his hand stitched. They tried to charge my insurance company for a female catheter kit. These charges are crazy. It would be interesting to find out at what point in the billing chain these erroneous charges are added.

    March 1, 2010 at 10:21 am |
  24. Ellen Wiesen


    I am sure that I too must have received a padded bill. My concern is that hospitals are forced to do this to cover the costs for patients not covered by insurance. Could CNN do a study of how much it is costing to treat non-covered patients as opposed to what it would cost to insure the 40-50 million people without insurance. This might bring facts rather than emotions to the health care issue.

    March 1, 2010 at 10:21 am |
  25. Brian

    @ Mark: This was not a terrible piece of media. If hospitals don't want their charges questioned, then they shouldn't charge outrageous prices. Why would they not have an "administrative charge" and "nursing charges"?

    Regardless of that, they still charge for doctors and items that were not even used! That is FRAUD!

    March 1, 2010 at 10:21 am |
  26. Tom Mayhew

    Mr. Mark N, you must work for one of these huge hospital coporations, and also benefit from these charges. You also probably have great insurance with a $5 co-pay.
    Why doesn't the hospital charge for Nursing, instead of a huge mark-up on materials used? Would that by chance lower the profit margin of the company because they would then have to account for the costs, which they do not right now.

    March 1, 2010 at 10:21 am |
  27. Carol McNamara

    I beat the system in a different way. Our local hospital wanted $2,500 for a Lumbar MRI, after my Humana discount it was $1,701. My deductible is $5,000 so I went searching for my MRI elsewhere. I had it done at a local outpatient center and my final bill was $306! Same thing on Xrays, hospital wanted $1,300 paid upfront (they called me the morning before, demanding payment on credit card), I told them to go jump in a lake and had them done at a local outpatient facility for a total of $116! Same exact procedures on both. It doesn't take an act of Congress to fix our health care system, it just takes more people paying attention!

    March 1, 2010 at 10:22 am |
  28. Sheila Fuller

    I had a a funny feeling in my chest so I went to the doctor and they said I would need to wear a heart monitor for a week. I told them I didn't have health insurance so how much would it cost. They said about $300. So I went home and began to look for health insurance. I purchased it and started the payments. I went back to the doctor and and got the monitor. When the bill came in the charge was $1200. My insurance denied it because my doctor had a record of them diagnosing this condition before I purchased the insurance. So when I received the bill it was $1200. I am still paying on it. So it would have cost me $300 when I didn't have insurance but after purchasing the insurance it now costs me $1200 dollars. So that showed me that the hospitals are charging 4x the amount of a charge when you have insurance. That is a ripn off!

    March 1, 2010 at 10:22 am |
  29. kim

    I was once over-charged on a medical bill and I won! I went to the doctor and the bill was $500. My insurance paid $240 and I sent them a check for $60. I was planning on paying them back when I got the rest of the money. However, I recieved another bill that claimed I owed $500 plus late fees. I tried to call the doctor's office to explain but it was closed and the buidling was emptied out. I sent a letter to the billing company (doctor's office) and included all of my information such as copy of check, insurance info, etc. The doctor called my house and told me that all of the charges would be dropped. I have not heard from them anymore. I think he thought I was going to take him to court.

    March 1, 2010 at 10:23 am |
  30. Diana

    I am right now fighting because of being charge $120 for one nitro tablet. They say it is because once they open a bottle of nitro they have to throw away the rest. It is not covered by Medcare unless you are admitted to the hospital. I have heart problems and they don't always get put in the hospital. The cost of a perscipition for nitro for 25 tablets is 11.95. They say it is the government rules they are following. What a waste.

    March 1, 2010 at 10:23 am |
  31. beth

    Yes I have. I realize this is the land of opportunity, but there should be rules in place for companies to make their money fairly and honestly. They are stealing from people, then it is our headache to prove them guilty. Then nothing is done to them. They have no consequences except to gain lots of money they shouldn't be getting. This is the greatest problem with health care. The Government controlling health care is not the solution. Look at the over charged costs that Medicare and the VA pay now without question. These rampant overcharges need to be controlled before we can improve our health care situation.

    March 1, 2010 at 10:23 am |
  32. Sarah Blankenship

    In June 2004 I went to the Mercy Hospital Emergency room in Monroe, Michigan for not feeling well. I was there a short time, they drew my blood, and asked me some questions. The results came back, I was pregnant. I received a bill for $1,001!!! I never even looked twice at the bills details because everything was covered by Medicaid. I just thought it was crazy, since I found out about my first pregnancy for a $1.06 from the Dollar Tree.

    March 1, 2010 at 10:23 am |
  33. Louise Trail

    Kyra, please let people know that many services provided at a hospital are not directly billed. Your $10 aspirin includes the pharmasist who dispenses the pill and the nurse who administers it.
    Ther are no direct charges for much of what goes on to ensure that you get the right care.

    March 1, 2010 at 10:23 am |
  34. Kathy Long

    Though I haven't experienced this particular problem, there have been times when I've had to contact my insurance company to question a service not found illegible for coverage. I agree that everyone should be advocates for themselves. However, when I have to spend a half hour, maybe more, maybe calling back more than once to get something settled, that bothers me more than a little. My time is just as valuable as that employee's at the insurance company I pay premiums to. Why am I doing their job? I don't expect a parent to grade my papers when I'm swamped or a student to teach my class. It's a sad day we've come to, and when one tylenol costs $140 where do we go from here? And more than that, where is the accountability? No amount of help to get everyone insured is going to help with these kind of charges. We are going down the wrong path to correct this.

    March 1, 2010 at 10:23 am |
  35. Arlene Wicks

    Your report was misleading. An explanation should have been provided to viewers as to the increased charges for an item. Hospitals would be bankrupt in one day if that system of charges were withdrawn. Hospitals provide services to a very high percentage of patients who do not pay.
    I suggest you research this and report to viewers how hospitals have to pass on the cost of all who show up for services through ER and do not pay. A huge number of those are illegal immigrants. That is the case in our local hospitals. Even with this system, hospitals walk a tight line to stay out of the red.

    March 1, 2010 at 10:24 am |
  36. Susan From Nebraska

    I went through the "Every Woman Matters" program here in Nebraska (which is an awesome thing for women to take advantage) for my pap test and mammogram. After I donated to the program for the testing, I received a bill from Regional West saying that I owed an additional $134 for "high risk" testing on my pap smear. I called my lab tech at my local hospital and asked here what was going on. She said that any additional testing has to be either authorized by the patient or the doctor (who would advise patient of additional testing and hence more fees). It took 2 months and threats of a lawsuit to get this unauthorized testing reversed. I also called the head office of "Every Woman Matters" to tell them of what happened to ensure that other women just don't take out their cheque book and pay the bill. My lab tech was very angry because this is not the first time she had to take the time from her busy day to deal with this situation. In the meantime I had to deal with collection calls.

    March 1, 2010 at 10:25 am |
  37. Jaime Alvarez

    This isn't so much a story about fighting a bill and winning but more about unfair billing by doctor's offices, and wondering how to get them to work with the patients.

    I once went to a hand specialist to get my wrist and hand looked at for possible carpal tunnel syndrome. I had a referral from my general practitioner, so I made an appointment. Before I made the appointment I asked, how much this is going to cost, I have insurance, but I wanted to know how much I was going to have to pay above co pay. The business people at the office could not tell me how much a preliminary visit would cost.

    I called my insurance they said that the office was within the network and I was covered. So I went to my visit saw the resident. Saw the doctor, for a few minutes said, that I would need further testing to know where its nerve or within the tendons. When I asked about costs, he could not tell. I asked their billers, they couldn't tell me. I ask,

    How do you Agree to something, where you dont know the price to? When I buy a car, i know how much Im going to pay, when I go out to eat, I know how much my food costs. When I go see a doctor, It should be disclosed how much a certain service costs.

    Final bit was that even though it was within my insurance's network, the office of the hand specialists did not work with my insurance. I had to make a conference call between the hand specialists office, and my insurance and have them talk it out in front of me because I was getting to different stories from two different people.

    March 1, 2010 at 10:25 am |
  38. Audrey

    When my father was hospitalized after a fall, I was shocked by the expenses accrued. How? One way was that nurseson the floor immediately asked me if he had insurance... and when I said "yes", that was all it took.
    Each item they'd give him – bed sox or RX- had a sticker on it, and she's remove it and stick it on the back of her hand, or up her arm.
    In questioning her about it after several days of watching this, she said she saves those stickers to put on the charts of other people WITHOUT insurance, and that way she's helping them out, and my Dad's insurance company was paying for someone who couldn't afford health insurance. "It wouldn't make any difference to him!"

    They were changing his bed-socks daily, and other such comfort items that could've lasted more than 24 hrs, and the stickers were added to her collection. As I watched... other nurses did the same thing. I can't remember the total cost of his care, but it was astronomical, all paid by his Insurance Co.

    March 1, 2010 at 10:25 am |
  39. Johnny S

    Turns out that it's not only american health providers that try to rip you off. I was recently in Austria where had to be flown off of a ski resort to local hospital for a dislocated hip. On the bill from the chopper company, I got a charge for "Lump sum for medical treatments" for 439.50 euro (about $600). The next charge on the bill was for the exact same thing, for the same price, only written in german rather than english. I don't know if they were trying to rip me off or it was an administrative error, but if it wasn't for Google Translate, I wouldn't have known.

    March 1, 2010 at 10:25 am |
  40. Gerri Carr

    Following my son's emergency appendectomy in Vermont we were initially billed for support hose that were furnished to him following the laparospic procedure and a follow up procedure due to abscesses for the purpose of preventing blood clots. The charges were $399 for one pair and $500 for the other pair. Yes, that's right. $899 for two pairs of support hose that cost approximately $37 retail at a pharmacy. I was told that because the hose were not re-usable and our insurance provider was not a preferred provider for that hospital, we were being charged this extra-ordinary amount due to "cost-shifting," wherein we would subsidize indigent or Medicare patients and be surcharged because our insurance provider had a small presence in the state and had not negotiated a reduced amount.
    The only way that we were able to avoid payment of this ridiculous fee was due to the fact that my son had entered the hospital as an emergency payment, so that the coverage obligated us to pay only $100. Otherwise, we would have been obligated to pay over $4000, ten percent of the total cost for an 11 day stay(0ver $43000-an amount greater than was charged to the accused Holocaust Museum assailant who was in the hospital for over 6 months.) It is the cost-shifting component, both difficult to understand and easily hidden in statements, which can require an advanced degree to decipher, that will eventually lead to the financial and social bankrupting of this nation.

    March 1, 2010 at 10:26 am |
  41. John Hudson

    Oh my yes I have had this issue; I was billed for the deductible difference by a service supplier / Physician whom I had never heard of after having Carpal Tunnel Surgery on my left hand last year.
    I questioned it to the primary provider who simply told me to contact the service supplier directly.
    When I did contact the service suppliers billing office all they told me was if I did not pay the bill they would put me into collections. They were unwilling to provide evidence or explain the issue.
    Having fought this losing "medical black mail" (which it is) battle a few months before for an issue over 5 years ago. I just paid the bill as the in the previous occurrence I did not pay it after questioning what they did. that refusal to pay went on my credit report and it took points off.
    I work as a Management System Auditor for Supplier Quality in the Aerospace and Automotive industry, if I was unable to prove I did not provide a service or produce a receipt from expenses incurred, that becomes mail fraud! What gives the medical service industry the right to do rob us like this?

    March 1, 2010 at 10:26 am |
  42. David McNully

    I didn't win, so you might not want to hear about my experience with a challenge. I had been getting injections for prostate cancer from my urologist which cost about $900 each. Medicare and my insurance company allowed about $800 for each injection. My urologist retired and I got a new one, who was with another clinic. He gave me the same injection and billed Medicare and my insurance company $5,000 for it. They paid the full amount. I fought the charge even though it didn't cost me anything, but I lost. The only satisfaction I got was leaving that doctor/system and returning to the clinic I had first used. The new doctor most recently charged about $800 for an injection, and Medicare and my insurance company reduced the charge by about $100. I almost contacted my congressman about Medicare's mistreatment of these claims but decided it would be futile.

    March 1, 2010 at 10:26 am |
  43. Jeremy

    The reason Hospitals charge so much is that Insurance Co don't pay dollar for dollar they only pay a percentage. Some insurance Co may only pay 10 cent to on the dollar. For this reason hospitals have to charge more for the little things to make up the cost they are loosing.

    March 1, 2010 at 10:27 am |
  44. James Kwiatkowski

    I had surgery in Nov -09 I got my bill. $610.00 I have medicare as primary and Health America (from GE my employer, retired) as secondary. HA said that they do not cover what medicare doesn't. Medicare paid more than my insurance had contracted the hospital to pay. So I had to pay the 20% that they don't. If my insurance would have paid anything I would only have to pay $100.00 deductible. I'm 62 and have been on medicare dissability since 2001.

    March 1, 2010 at 10:28 am |
  45. John Keenan

    Recently, we went with our grandchild to the Shawnee Mission Medical Center, in Overland Park, KS for a tooth punctured lip, (My grandson has Blue Cross and Blue Shield (BKBS) Insurance which cost alot and has a very high deductable but that is another story. We seen the receptionist, sent with a nurse to have his vitals taken, and then sent to a room to wait on the doctor. A nurse came in prior to that to ask questions but no treatement yet. When the doctor did arrive, he had disposable rubber gloves on his hands. He looked at my grandsons lip and decided that nothing needed to be done. We were grateful for that news but when the bill came BKBS said we owed the hospital $200.00. Maybe it was taking the vitals and those costly disposable rubber gloves that drove up the cost. This happened on a weekend so we were resigned to go to the emergency room. Had we gone to his regular doctor at KU Med West, the cost would have been a $20.00 co-pay and if the deductable wasn't paid it would have been another 40 to 50 dollars. Since we took our grandson to the hospital in the evening on a weekend, maybe they charged us for a "Night Differential" fee?

    March 1, 2010 at 10:28 am |
  46. jack

    Kyra, I was treated at Brownsville General emergancy room. At the end of my treatment I was putting on my coat and walking to the exit with my doctor. On the way another doctor walked up and my doctor introduced him to me. I exited the hospital and the two doctors continued to talk. Four or five weeks later the bill came to my house and I was charged for treatment by both doctors. One I had never met or been treated by. I called my insurance company and told them the story. It didn't matterto them, they paid both the bill any way.

    March 1, 2010 at 10:28 am |
  47. Dot

    Yes, one time I fought the charge for "uterine scan" for my husband. Medicare paid and when I called them, the lady said," Oh My Gosh, I hope I was not the one who approved that!". When I called the Medical office that billed it, they said" Oh, it is really not much different in cost than the test he had, so why do you care?" They had made a mistake in the code number.
    I have fought bills not getting paid by insurance many times and have found that 100% of the time, the hospital or medical office has made an error in requesting payment. They seldom admit it but the evidence is right in front of them. One time the insurance refused to pay because the biller had put "CNA" as the title behind the anesthetist instead of "RNA". They absolutely refused to admit it but I was told by two insurance people that it was on their request. "CNA" means certied nurse assistant ( 6-10 weeks of training to be a nurse aide)and "RNA" means Registered Nurse Anesthetist ( About 5 – 6 years of education and training).
    In my opinion, billers need more education.

    March 1, 2010 at 10:29 am |
  48. David in Oro Valley, AZ


    I noticed that ever since Health Care has resurfaced, CNN has taken a negative focus on private health care in the U.S., i.e., citing the insurance company in CA for increasing premiums by 40%, which you know is an aberration, and now the focus on over charging by hospitals, etc. Why not re-focus on the contents of the House and Senate Bills and all the boards, bureaucracies, panels, and new overseeing "Secretary" position that would be created. Do you really think medical costs would go down under such as system? Kyra, are you happy with your" private "health insurance provided by CNN?

    March 1, 2010 at 10:29 am |
  49. Pastor Carl Johnson

    For about 40 years, I had paid health insurance premiums, for me and my small business then. I eventually had to alter coverage to being "catastrophic" with $7500 initial self costs. Late in 2004, I was working in my yard and pulled a muscle along the SIDE of my rib cage. A friend convinced me to go to a local doctor "to be checked out". That doctor was probably around 80 and effectively deaf, and without value, but he saw me pointing to my chest and sent me to another doctor, "a specialist". In an hour there, I was submitted to several "tests" and told that I failed them all, and that he had to schedule me for a heart operation. How do you "argue" with a doctor about such matters? In any case, in around two hours of outpatient activities on that following day, they claimed to have discovered that I was "perfectly healthy, with heart and arteries of a teenager" (being 59 years old at the time). I received bills for roughly $7800, of which I was responsible for $7500. The Insurance company therefore paid for around $300 total. And they informed me that they were going to raise my rates! I dropped the Insurance, for which I had (lifetime) paid close to $100,000, where the SINGLE claim I ever made cost them $300! I have been without insurance since.

    If YOU or anyone else can find any way to reduce those costs, it would be fantastic. At the time, the Insurance company, the Hospital and the doctor all had no interest or time for me regarding those matters.

    Pastor Carl

    March 1, 2010 at 10:30 am |
  50. Donna-Lee DePrille

    I had a breast biopsy after a suspicious mammogram. When I got my bill, I couldn't account for what all the charges were. I then received my insurance paperwork for the procedure. What to my astonished eyes should appear but a charge for a PACEMAKER! But it said the amount the insurance company paid was fifty two dollars.
    A. What pacemaker costs $ 52?
    B. And what does a breast biopsy have to do with a pacemaker.
    I got an itemized bill from the Hospital and there was no charge for a pacemaker. There was, however, two 350 dollar charges for an operating room ! And my insurance company paid for both of those! The hospital eventually dropped that charge. But even three years later they kept sending me four separate bills that added up to about five hundred dollars. No one I talked to could actually itemize what these charges were for. So I refused to pay for them. And of course it went to collection. When collection agencies would call, I would tell them my story. They said they couldn't drop the charges, but every single time they extended the date I had to pay by. Finally, the head finance guy at Mercy Hospital in Springfield Ma. called me himself. I told him my story. He said I still had to pay the bill, but I could send them five dollars a month for the rest of my life because it showed intent to pay. I agreed and he said he would send me a new bill with all the charges consolidated. To this day, I haven't received a bill. My theory is, that they just dropped it because someone was making charges up and no one wanted me to sue them, which I mentioned a few times as a possibility if the collection agencies didn't stop bothering me. Those charges for a pacemaker were obviously very wrong, but I wonder if this was even my bill. Unless you advocate for yourself, the insurers will just keep making people pay for things no one can verify! Feel free to call me. 413 568 3544 Donna-Lee I was unempoyed and sick and uninsured for most of 2009 and didn't get care for five months until I called Gov. Patricks office 20 times one day.

    March 1, 2010 at 10:31 am |
  51. Elizabeth Hoover

    I know that it costs – in time, money or convenience – to make things right. and I'm generally willing to do what it takes. But why is it that – after already being victimized by the health care and insurance industries – the advice americans are getting is to take on the responsibility of correcting their methods for them? Instead we should be encouraged to rebel.

    March 1, 2010 at 10:31 am |
  52. Connie Lukaszewski

    Dec. 2009 I had a procedure done at Community Hospital in New Port Richey Fl. they charged me 180.00 dollars for one Ondansetron ( Zofran)
    4 mg pill. used to prevent nausea, They told me Medicare no longer pays for medications that a person would normally take at home or self administer. I questioned the charge and they told me that was their guide lines for this medication. I called Walmart and asked for the charge on this med for one pill , they said 4.00. I notified the Attorney General and they told me to take it to the drug administration dept. in Fl , I never heard from them I just gave up and paid the bill .

    March 1, 2010 at 10:33 am |
  53. Matthew Hatch

    I had shoulder surgery a couple years ago, and after paying my doctor $5000 for his services, I was surprised when I received another bill in the mail for the same exact amount, but by a different Doctor. I had never heard of this Doctor's name before, but the bill claimed the other Doctor was assisting in the surgery. I called the Hospital's billing dept to find out what happened. They never did explain the charges, but the charges went away after. My insurance company had already paid their share of the extra $5000 which was the majority of the bill.

    March 1, 2010 at 10:33 am |
  54. henry

    I have to say, having just heard the two of you talk about medical overcharges, that you're in a bit of a bubble. From what I understand at least in NYS, HMOs have to pay whatever services are billed by the health providers - and I never heard of one that will helpfully write a letter to the provider inquirying on behalf of the member. I recently fought for six months over an extra co-pay charge of $20, including a complaint letter to the President of the hospital. They insisted I owed the money and actually had it sent to collection, even though I was in a regular dialogue over the disputed fee. (They said that was automatic.) Eventually I convinced them that I did not owe the $20, and they apologized. It took a tremendous amount of work – faxing copies of checks and their own bills to their office - I spoke with five representatives over the course of the six months. Obviously it wasn't worth the money or the stress - but I felt it was meaningful because of the principle that if they could mess up so much about $20, what chance does someone have if they have a disputed bill of $200 or $2000, or many more than one install of overcharging. The hospital system is set up to harass the patient, using threatening bills, and then collection agents who can wreck the patient's credit. Most patients are on their own - they work for small companies with no HR departments or the HR person (singe person) won't help, and or other billing advocates are services that charge the patient - so if the patient is overcharged $200, they will still have to pay $40-$65 for a billing advocate to resolve the problem.

    March 1, 2010 at 10:33 am |
  55. Brandon Form Texas

    Two years ago when I was in school I got a 2500 dollar bill in the mail from a hospital after a 3 hour stay in the emergency room...even though the hospital accepted my mother's insurance (UnitedHealthcare). The problem was that UnitedHealthcare found out that I was double insured under both my parents (who are separated). UH refused to pay – the reason they gave: My father was born first. They wanted my Dad's insurance to pay for it. After 3 months and endless phone calls between the insurance companies and hospital it was finally taken care of. What makes this scenario even more idiotic is that my dad was insured under Pacificare- "A UnitedHealtcare Company".

    March 1, 2010 at 10:34 am |
  56. Meredith Sheperd

    I received 3 staples to close a cut in my head in the Emergency room. It wasn't too deep, I almost didn't seek any care, but cuts to the head bleed a lot so I took a taxi to the hospital to be safe. I was in and out in an hour or less. The bill totaled over $4,000 - $897 for me to pay AFTER my insurance kicked in, and the insurance company payed nothing... confusing.

    I requested an itemized bill but it was all written in medical acronyms i did not understand. So I called both the hospital and the insurance company to receive some clarity. After going back and forth several times– both parties insisting that I call the other, that they couldn't help– I gathered that my insurance company never even sees what services are provided. Instead, they receive an encoded list, each code referencing a service with a price that has been negotiated between the insurance and the hospital to a lower number. This is why the total bill went down from ~$4000 to ~$1000 with the insurance company never paying a cent. In other words, an individual with out insurance would have payed MORE for each service. Also, since the services were encoded, the insurance company wasn't even aware of the nature of the incident (?!?!), i presume for protective reasons?!?!

    The final blow– I requested this list of codes and prices from both parties. Both insisted that it was the property of the other party and they couldn't give it to me. I pressed for many hours and got no where. The cost of each service remains a mystery. I guess it isn't my right to know how the monthly premium I pay operates to

    March 1, 2010 at 10:34 am |
  57. Jane

    Have you ever read the stub on a nurse's paycheck – particularly the night nurses who get overtime on top of max pay and they also seem to get paid if they are on standby (and never go into work that particular night). It is outrageous.

    March 1, 2010 at 10:34 am |
  58. Diane Storc

    I challenged and WON! I called for an ambulance to transport my husband to the hospital in the middle of the night. Only 2 weeks later I received a bill from EMS for approx $800. I filled out all pertinent information needed regarding his insurance and mailed it back that very same day. One week later I received another bill from EMS advising claim not paid!! I called the insurance company and they asked ME to call EMS for another bill and FILL IT OUT AGAIN, they said they never received a claim from EMS. So I did what they asked and a few weeks later I received another bill from EMS advising that my claim was denied. Now I'm getting really annoyed and my blood began to boil (we had excellent coverage and I could not understand why the claim was denied). So I called again and was told that they were investigating whether the ambulance was an actual emergency. When I told the insurance rep that my husband died 9 hrs after being brouhgt to the hospital and WAS THAT AN EMERGENCY ENOUGH FOR THEM!!! I then hung up and placed a call and a hand written certified letter to the CEO of our insurance co, and I not only received a call back, but was told to forward directly to his office ANY additional hospital/medical bills concerning my husband. I also received a letter that I would be covered an additional 6 months for MYSELF under his insurance at no cost. It was at that time I became my own advocate in any situation. The squeaky wheel will be oiled , but you have to speak up, PS EMS was paid and unfortunately this is not the only story I have regarding medical treatment. Thanks

    March 1, 2010 at 10:37 am |
  59. Johnny S

    Also, from the hospitals prospective, why worry about overcharging for something when their customers aren't actually paying for it? Just let the insurance companies foot the bill, and if they can't afford it, they can just raise premiums for all of their customers across the board. A patient doesn't get to shop around when they have an emergency so it eliminates competition for the hospitals (you can't tell the ambulance driver "oh take me to the 'discount' hospital please). Sounds like some health care providers have found a loop hole here... I'm surprised this hasn't been addressed in any health care debates on capitol hill.

    March 1, 2010 at 10:39 am |
  60. Don

    In the health summit it was stated that 50% of the country is on some sort of government health coverage, and this coverage is better than anybody’s in the private sector. Do you think these people look at their bills, I think not. So if you’re not upset that they charge $1000 for a tooth brush you should be because in the end the tax payers are paying it.

    March 1, 2010 at 10:40 am |
  61. Shirley

    While I have challenged some of my health care charges after the insurance company denied the charges, and usually been successful in my appeals, I believe the issue is much broader than this. Just imagine the personnel, communications systems and materials costs required on the parts of the provider and the insurance companies to resolve these appeals. If the consumer makes the effort and is successful most of the time, then a huge cost savings would result by not having these procedural roadblocks in the first place. Recipients of Medicare and Medicaid are perhaps less likely to appeal, thereby also increasing the costs of administering those programs. More accountability, less cost.

    March 1, 2010 at 10:40 am |
  62. Jimmy Morgan

    I have been an owner of small hospitals for the past 25 years. I have since sold my last hospital and now have a hospital consulting firm. There are several issues that you failed to address in your segment titled "Health Care Costs Gone Wild" It is true that hospital charges are too high, however, hospitals rarely collect what they charge. Medicare, Medicaid and the majority of insurance providers use a fee schedule when they reimburse hospitals and physicians. A hospital can choose to charge $100,000.00 for a tylenol but they will only be reimbursed based on a fee schedule. For example, if you admitted to a hospital for a cardiac catherization your insurance carrier, provided there are no complications, has a set amount they will pay for that procedure regardless what the hospital charges. The examples of overcharges being paid by insurance carriers is very rare. Hospitals have to fight very hard just to get paid the charges allowed by the fee schedule.
    The problem occurs when an uninsured individual goes to the hospital. More times than not the hospital charges them based on 100% of charges. When I still owned a hospital we charged our cash pay patient's based on the Medicare fee schedule, never full charges. The reason hospitals mark up their charges is because in many case insurance providers pay the amount perscribed by a fee schedule or hospital charges, whichever is less.
    Hospital charges are also high because of the cost required to comply with federal , state and 3rd party insurance regulations and the expense of increasing professional liability insurance due to litigation. The issue is much more complex than what you presented. Contrary to popular belief, the profit margin for most hospitals is very slim. Please check out the number of hospital closings due to financial failure in recent years.

    March 1, 2010 at 10:40 am |
  63. Ted Taylor

    My wife,daughter, grandson and I had to undergo a series of rabies shots. Each week we would all be charged different amounts for the same service at the same hospital.

    I told them the problem AND THEN I CALLED A MEETING OF THEIR STAFF - some 9-11 people. They attended and I showed them on the whiteboard in one of their conference rooms the problems they had with billing. They left the meeting, went to work on the issues and within a couple of weeks, the billing was straighten out for all of us.

    Had we not had bills to compare, we may never had known we were being overcharged.

    A win for the little guy and a message to be ASSERTIVE - its your health - stand up for yourself!


    March 1, 2010 at 10:47 am |
  64. John Keenan

    This is in relationship to these exorbiant fees charged by hospitals. What happens to those people who don't have health insurance. They don't have an advocate to call? If they are out of work they don't have an HR to contact. There is at least 15 million people out there in this situation who are being exploited. They will never recover. Hounded by creditors, sued by lawyers, driven to despair and desparate acts.
    I have insurance and my insurance has a contract with all of the hospitals that I go to. My son recently had surgery on his shoulder. He was billed $17,184.80. The contract with my insurance company only allowed $3,139.52. (I have numerous examples where this has happened.)
    People without insurance don't have someone to negotiate the cost for them.
    Our government wants health care reform. I opine the government should contract with one or more of the insurance companies to negotiate a cost of care contract for the uninsured. This would allow the uninsured to be able to pay for insurance on the negotiated cost that they would be able to pay.
    This is a true win win for everyone. Yes the government would need to verify that the individual's are truely without the ability to pay for health care. income tax checks and unemployment checks by the insurance company should be able to make that happen.

    March 1, 2010 at 10:53 am |
  65. Tammy

    I took my dad into the doctors office because he was having some pain in his knee. The doctor said it might be a joint or muscle problem. Doctor said just ice it and exercise the xrays, no tests. A 10 minute conversation cost $496 dollars.

    March 1, 2010 at 10:55 am |
  66. David Arnold

    This post is not related to this blog, but I wanted to get this info to Kyra. I am a fully embarrassed Kentuckian. I was put in that position from Mitch McConnell, who has a look on his face similar to a goldfish that can't figure out why it in the bowl, but now Jim Bunning, probably prompted by McConnell, pulls the stunt he did yesterday. How sad it is. I just want the people in the country to know that not all Kentuckians are as foolish as these two men. Many of us a conscious, clear thinking citizens, that did not vote for those two close-minded individuals.

    A second point I wish to make is that, the officer who was hit by the car, saves the man standing next to him and probably suffered more injury, by first pushing that man from in front of the car before he jumped away.

    March 1, 2010 at 10:57 am |
  67. Robert

    After receiving a charge for a private room I did not ask for, I requested an itemized bill. I saw on the bill 1$ per asperin. I asked the head of the hospital (a friend) about the cost. He indicated their charge was based upon "what the insurance company would allow". From now on I will take all my meds. with me.

    March 1, 2010 at 10:57 am |
  68. Helter

    My primary care physician ordered a heart scan, after i complained of fast heart beat.
    UnitedHealthCare, declined payment, unless a "scientific proof' from my physician were presented, to prove the need for such procedure.
    Now i am stuck with a $600.00 bill. Go figure.

    March 1, 2010 at 10:58 am |
  69. Joyce Spector

    Last year I was on a medication that was very dangerous to stop cold turkey. Through a paperwork mix-up I could not renew immediately, so my doctor suggested I go immediately to the Emergency Room. I waited for 6 hours, saw a doctor for about 3 minutes, was given 4 pills (a days worth)... and sent a bill for almost $ 1,000.00. You tell me what's wrong with our medical system.

    March 1, 2010 at 10:58 am |
  70. Kevin

    Recently I was hospitalized for a 48 admission. When I received my bill I was charged for an IV pump. I called the hospital and said I was never on an IV so how is it I could be charged for the pump. They replied...the IV pump is in the room, that's why it was charged. After repeat calls and a letter to the hospital director it was removed.

    March 1, 2010 at 10:59 am |
  71. Kevin

    My wife had a heart murmor and had it repaired. Prior to this surgery she had several visits to the local clinic for shortness of breath and such. She, being a registered nurse asked for detailed billing on one of her visits and to our surprise she crossed out over 12k worth of items that she knows did not pertain to her. Everything from gauze to having an appendicitis performed. We contacted our insurance and weeks later received another bill for the same visit for 950.00. Simply amazing!!!

    March 1, 2010 at 11:00 am |
  72. james

    It saddens me that I hear how the hospitals are charging these crazy charges and the Insurance Companies pay without question and we have this health care debate. People seem to lack understanding or don't care. This country is really sad.

    March 1, 2010 at 11:01 am |
  73. Hezekiah

    I went to the hospital last Friday for a treatment but I was scheduled for an appointment in two months time because I don't have a health insurance.

    March 1, 2010 at 11:01 am |
  74. Annie Prince

    My husband goes every six weeks for an infusion of medication, which he orders form our provider and takes with him, the medication costs us about 3k. Our hospital bill included a charge for the medication at over 12k, and a total charge of over 15k for a two hour procedure.
    Our insurance has already paid them, so now it's a real mess. We're caught between the hospital and the insurance company, talk about your proverbial rock and a hard place...

    March 1, 2010 at 11:02 am |
  75. sherry

    went to er for broken arm, was treated and referred to orthopedic for cast etc. was billed from orthopedic for 71.00 for xrays, 251.00 for cast and 548.00 for treatment (explaination of fracture and putting on cast). havent recieved bill from hosp. yet. cast will probably come off at home.

    March 1, 2010 at 11:02 am |
  76. Lorena Reynolds

    I am an uninsured person. I just had a procedure done last month. When I was informed that I would receive a discount if I paid upfront the amount was 1,200 dollars, which I paid the day of the procedure. 3 days after, I received a call from the hospital stating the amount was 4,400 more. When I requested the itemized statement I was told they could not send it by law. What law would this be? I want to know what I am paying for. I have tried 3 times and get the same answer every time.

    March 1, 2010 at 11:03 am |
  77. Marie Rock CVS cost $187.00 one month supply.
    at Tricare pharmacy, (for veterans) $22.00 for 3 months supply.
    Look at their profit...Shameful!!!!

    March 1, 2010 at 11:03 am |
  78. nj

    After my husband's layoff we were forced to purchase a 6-month insurance policy. I called to ask the price of my 30-day prescription. With copay the insurance company quoted $273. However, the pharmacy quoted $162 for the same prescription for a person with NO insurance.

    I asked the insurance person 3 times to check this and was told that that $273 was the correct price for someone with their insurance until the deductible was met.

    The third time I asked I had it on speaker phone at the drugstore and needless to say, the pharmacist look at me and said " So Mrs...., I see you do not have any insurance..."

    March 1, 2010 at 11:03 am |
  79. Wayne

    Hey Kyra, I don't like this at all. It sounds like fraud to me. If insurance companys were paying my customers bills and I took advantage of that and I over charged the patient knowing full and well the insurance company would just pay it.....Some would call that fraud and I'd be going to prison.....Where are the fraud invesigaters? Can you imagine how the premiums for all americans would decrease? We might even need a Government Health Care Program...I'm extremly upset about this...we have to do something..NOW

    March 1, 2010 at 11:03 am |
  80. Anna Goldman

    Ha – I loved the 72 year old man getting a pap smear!

    Here's my stories:
    I get my health care from a non-profit health care conglomerate that provides both in patient and doctor's office care.
    Two years ago I was charged $767 for a Hepatitis B immunization- one shot!. When I called, I was told that my health insurance wouldn't pay for it because it is job related – I'm a nurse and have to get them. The hospital couldn't explain why one shot would cost so much. I complained about the price and never heard from them again. I got the balance of the required shots at the County Health office – for $25 each.
    The last year I purchased an ointment right at my dermatologist 's office. He's part of the same conglomerate. The ointment manufacturer was giving away cheesy makeup bags which I declined to take. A month later I got a bill from the conglomerate for $75 for the free cheesy bag! Once again I called and they said they would take care of it.
    With things like this for doctor's office visits I can only wonder what they are doing to in-patients.

    March 1, 2010 at 11:04 am |
  81. KBV

    How about $2000, just to treat poison oak, from Santa rosa memorial hospital.

    March 1, 2010 at 11:05 am |
  82. james

    someone talks about "do you ever see a charge for nursting/" Is this person crazy? Are you rationalizing being charged 23.00 for a swab? Does a nurse have to do this? This person is sick minded and probably doesn't have to be concerned about issues like these. GET A LIFE!!!

    March 1, 2010 at 11:05 am |
  83. Helter

    Went to the emergency room (Baylor Hospital, Irving,TX), after cutting off the tip of my index finger. After being taken care and all the procedure (staff was amazing and did a great job), the supervising doctor in charge, recommended a visit to a specialist, to see if my finger bone was damaged. Coincidentally, that 'specialist' had an office, right across the street. I made an appointment and showed up the next day. Paid a $45.00 fee, and a NURSE came and talked to me and did a visual inspection. After that, the so called 'specialist', came to see me (after waiting more than 25 minutes) and this guy took a quick look on my finger, and told me follow the instructions given, by the NURSE and come back in a month for a "follow up".
    I never went back. This sounds like a scam between the emergency room staff and this "specialist". I called back that 'specialist' and complained and requested a refund. I was given the run around and never heard from the them. The End.

    March 1, 2010 at 11:06 am |
  84. ilene whipple

    I receive an IV medication admistered by a hospital, one month I was charged $16,000 insurance paid $12,000. the next month I went to a different hospital I was charged $100,000, insurance paid $2,000. What is the cost of the medcation and services?

    Healthcare needs one price for a procedure and meds, whether you have isurance or not.

    Insurance should not be for maintance, but for crisis. Like auto insurance, we are reaponsible for maintance and the insurance is there for an accident.


    March 1, 2010 at 11:07 am |
  85. james

    I have a friend who just got a bill for $10,000. He had no insurance. His wife got sick. She got a bill for $6000. When are these crazies going to get a heart of comassion? If not now, they will pay later.

    March 1, 2010 at 11:08 am |
  86. dan paul scott

    Voluntary activation of in room mucus removal system. $140.00. Opening that little 20 tissue per box of Kleenex. I wonder what they call T.P.?

    March 1, 2010 at 11:09 am |
  87. Wayne

    Hey Kyra, I don't like this at all. It sounds like fraud to me. If insurance companys were paying my customers bills and I took advantage of that and I over charged the patient knowing full and well the insurance company would just pay it.....Some would call that fraud and I'd be going to prison.....Where are the fraud invesigaters? Can you imagine how the premiums for all americans would decrease? We might NOT even need a Government Health Care Program...I'm extremly upset about this...we have to do something..NOW

    March 1, 2010 at 11:10 am |
  88. Ken Smith

    Several months past my cardiologist asked me to have an MRA, not an MRI. At tthe time I did not know the difference – I had never before had either. I had to enquire of my cardiologist's staff what the procedure was. My Dr. did not discuss this order or the procedure with me – but left it to an assistant to communicate with me. I was told by this staff person that a dye would be used in my test to track the flow of blood through the arteries in question. At the lab, I was NOT injected with a dye and was told it was not ordered by my physician. So I had an MRI, not an MRA. The results were useless to the cardiologist who said "Everyone in the medical profession knows or should know that an MRA automatically includes the injection of the dye. You need to discuss this oversight with the lab. In the meantime, I want you to go again and this time actually have the MRA"
    I went to the lab and inquired. I was told there that I did have the MRA as was ordered by my Dr. They maintained that if the dye injection was wanted, she should have ordered it – which she did not do.

    The bill for the useless procedure I did have was about $2,000.00. The lab stonewalled in discussing it further. The Dr. would do nothing to admit her mistake or take my side against the lab. I called Medicare and my supplementary insurance company to inform them that WE were being charged for a useless procedure which was either mistakenly ordered or mistakenly performed. Both showed no interest in pursuing a remedy. I was told to not worry about it – it wasn't important enough to make a fuss about since it was only a couple of thousand dollars and I wasn't physically harmed in the process even if it was in fact an error or someone's part. They and I paid the bill. I've never been able to get my Dr., the lab, or the insurance company to again show any willingness to discuss it again.

    March 1, 2010 at 11:11 am |
  89. henry

    addendum to my earlier post, i suspect that the hospital that overcharged me had a policy that whenever a patient paid a bill twice by mistake, (as in paying a statement as well as the original bill), that overpayment would be put in a special account, so that it wouldn't apply that overpayment to other bills. Maybe I'm wrong, but it seemed that way.

    March 1, 2010 at 11:13 am |
  90. Sam

    The Hospital billing is a Scam. Everytime in the last two years my hospital stay bills were just stupid. Wipes. 25$ It just goes on and on. Right now I have a bill with Mayo and it is 5 months old and the billing has been changed multible times and is not complete YET! Still battling!

    The Insurance companies have deals with the hospitals that we can't get as individuals. Then the charges are huge and discounted which make them look like heros. Just More BS.

    Our Senators and Congressmen should have the same insurance we do and the same retirement as the general public.

    Did I see a bill in the last weeks passed that lets Illegal aliens have Social Security? Whats next.

    March 1, 2010 at 11:16 am |
  91. Bill

    The problem is not insurance companies. The problem is the pricing arrogance of medical providers. Hospitals, labs, testing facilities, etc., all charge too much. As consumers, we have no say. Can you imagine walking into a new car dealership and saying "I need a new car. Send me a bill."

    True story: I had an operation early last year. Some doctor I didn't know walked into my room, asked "How you doin?" then charged my insurance $500. I complained and threatened to send the whole bill to my Senator along with my comments. The hospital promptly removed the charge.

    Medical providers charge what they want to because they can.

    March 1, 2010 at 11:16 am |
  92. henry

    another comment about my story and probably others here: It wasn't just all my time fighting the $20 overcharge that irritates me; even more outrageous was that the hospital spent so much time arguing about it - the amount of time the various representatives spent on the issue amounted easily to 20 times the value of the disputed bill.

    March 1, 2010 at 11:18 am |
  93. tammi

    My whole family went for our annual physicials, we all had blood work done at same hospital lab at the same time. I had called my insurance co. prior to make sure we could use this lab as I always do for any medical need. They said yes go ahead, 2 claims were paid, 2-were denied due to "out of network" . It took over a year of back and forth, a different story every time you call but finally they paid.

    Now im in a battle with my insurance co and another hospital about a CT scan and MRI. These are covered services in my plan but because of the code that was used by the hospital it is making it fall into a preventitive screening catigory which my insurance co. views as an annual physical or annual gynecological appt. and i only have a $300. annual max. for these services. this bill is for over $5000. this has been going on since 12/12/08.

    March 1, 2010 at 11:20 am |
  94. james

    I have read alot of comments on this subject. I read the "congress this and "congress" that. Congress is an institution. Congress is made up of a group of Individual's with names. There are people in congress who are blocking progress. People need to call them by names, example, I hear the the Unemployment benefits is a "congress" issue. Bunning is stopping the lives of many americans because that bastard has a job. Republicans don't have a clue of what americans who are struggling are going through. You blame "congress" for being broken. Call them by their names!!!

    March 1, 2010 at 11:20 am |
  95. bruce

    I went to the doctor for allergy testing,presented my insurance card and thought that every thing was fine. After being tested three times one week apart, I was given a stronger test that showed some result. I then was sent a bill for over two thousand dollars and notified that my insurance company UHC, does cover allergy testing. My question is why the doctor waited a month to tell me that I wasn't covered. I was charged over five hundred dollars per visit for the exact same test.

    March 1, 2010 at 11:24 am |
  96. Regis L. Spirk

    My son had a therapudic misadventure in the hospital ,in other words he died. A month or so later I received a bill from a doctor who said he visited my son a week after he was burried. I called the billing office and told the person that picked up the phone that if they had my deceised son I wanted him back! I never received another bill. Please excuse my spelling!

    March 1, 2010 at 11:26 am |
  97. Laura Mitchell of MD

    One of the biggest reasons that we all need to request and scrutinize an itemized bill for every medical procedure or hospital stay is this. Insurance companies will pay pretty much whatever they are billed and have no idea what services you did or did not actually receive, only you have that knowledge. The other thing you should know is that most policies have a "lifetime maximum" amount that they will pay on your behalf. So that $1,000 toothbrush and $230 worth of gloves, could prevent you from being covered at some future point in time for some serious medical condition.

    March 1, 2010 at 11:26 am |
  98. sunrose1

    Maybe people cannot afford their medical bills because those medical bills are grossly inflated, in some cases, by thousands or tens of thousands of dollars. Inaccurate medical billing, then, perpetuates the problem and creates a 'self-fulfilling prophecy'. The billing featured in the newscast is negligent at the very least. If any other industry over billed like the medical industry does, Congress would have hopped on that and regulated a long time ago.

    On that note, federal employees' health care is paid, in large part, by taxpayers (employer share of premiums and any other associated health care benefit payments). These businesses must be breaking some laws on a federal level in all this.

    Frankly, isn't it time someone start looking at filing fraud charges on these businesses? After all, if they have a pattern of over billing (and my definition would be anymore than ONE time), and they mailed a bill, isn't that mail fraud? Pick a few dozen businesses randomly and charge them with fraud. That would go a long way toward getting them to do their jobs properly.

    Then there's the insurance companies. While they spend 10s and 100s of millions lobbying against health care reforms, they are paying fraudulent charges to providers, passing these costs to their business and individual customers, and giving every one of us a hard time on our billing questions, coverage parameters, dropping us at their whims, or excluding us entirely.

    Why are we having to hire medical billing SPECIALISTS – at our own expense, mind you – to ensure that our bills are correct and honest?

    What the you-ve'-got-to-be-kidding is going on here?

    March 1, 2010 at 11:36 am |
  99. melanie

    My husband had a baseline first time colonoscopy & endoscopy. The bill came to $15,000. Outraged, I started doing research and found that had we said self pay, the bill would have been $1500. We are now fighting the dr and the surgery center (he owns) to not pay due to "NOT REASONABLE AND CUSTOMARY CHARGES". (which is against the law). We are working with our insurance to show how this is just a scam and we are not paying!!!!

    March 1, 2010 at 11:36 am |
  100. Candy Butcher

    As a voice for consumers around the country, Medical Billing Advocates of America wants to let consumers know that most of these outrageous charges are not even billable charges. The items and/or services are already factored into the cost of the room charge, operating room charge, etc. which can run anywhere from $60.00 to $225.00 per minute. Yes, you heard me right, per minute. Supposedly this per minute high cost includes all the items and services that are routinely used in a particular setting, so therefore when billed separately, it is considered double billing and sometimes triple billing.

    The insurance companies rarely see these charges simply because they except summary billings that say: non-sterile supplies $18,000.00, sterile supplies $20,000.00. If you think your insurance company is watching out for you, you are wrong.

    March 1, 2010 at 12:20 pm |
  101. Candy Butcher

    Reply to posting: Mike: March 1st, 2010 10:12 am ET

    It seems to me that the crazy charges you talked about with Ms. Cohen are criminal. Why are charges not brought against someone?

    YOU ARE RIGHT, the government needs to spend time on stopping all the fraud and abusive that is happening to consumers TODAY! Who knows, if we get control of the overcharging, the reform may need to be totally different than what they are fighting over now.

    March 1, 2010 at 12:41 pm |
  102. Jean

    Medical care providers–hospitals and physicians–determine their charges using the "cost shifting" method. That means they basically determine what it costs them to provide all the patient care services to both paying and non-paying patients and then that determines their fee schedule for both supplies and services. It isn't just a bandaid that you're paying for. The charge for that band-aid also helps cover other costs for things like keeping the emergency open 24 hours a day or other services and supplies that make it possible for the hospital or doctor's office to provide healthcare services to the community. The biggest driver of healthcare costs is uncompensated being provided to those who are uninsured.

    March 1, 2010 at 12:53 pm |
  103. urwatuis

    These outrageous prices are a response to many people who can't pay their hospital charges. Guess what would happen if we had the gov't heavily regulate the insurance companies and hospitals??? COST WOULD GO DOWN!!!! BTW....the President smokes cigarettes???? can he possibly be that out of touch?

    March 1, 2010 at 12:53 pm |
  104. Christie Hudson

    Response to: Mark N March 1st, 2010 10:12 am ET

    I beg to differ. If you researched deeper you would find more shocking information on hospital over charging. Yes, we do find some hospitals charging for nursing time but most of the time they are hidden in charges such as: oral admin fee = nurse handing you a little white paper cup with pills, which does not include the medication cost. What about venipuncture = nurse punching a needle in your arm to take blood, handling fee = carrying the tube of blood to the lab, the list can gone on forever. The room rates are so high because they cover the cost of nursing services and routine services, supplies and equipment.

    March 1, 2010 at 12:54 pm |
  105. Dan

    I have recently challenged my doctor's office where they charged me for something that they health insurance paid to them. They are also sent this bill to collections. I will went to the doctors office and showed them that they were paid by the Health insurance company and also made sure they called the collections company to clear this issue and also made sure the credit bureaus were to delete this file from my credit record. The doctor's office excuse was they were using a new billing system. In my humble opinion, this could have been true or not but too often these erroneous billings are causing issues for people due to fraud or accident with no real safe guard.

    March 1, 2010 at 1:01 pm |
  106. Christie Hudson

    Reply to andrea March 1st, 2010 10:15 am ET

    Medical Billing Advocates of America has been working on behalf of consumers for more than 15 years to get the medical industry held accountable for their action and it has not happened yet. This is why we are in the spot we are and more and more consumers will not be able to pay for health insurance if the government does not step up to the plate. This area should be the goverments first priority in the health reform not the last. The Government should be talking to the people that have rolled their sleeves up and fought for consumers right for true and accurate charges as well as fair and reasonable prices. Speaking to Medical Providers and Insurance Representatives will not get them anywhere but deeper in the hole.

    March 1, 2010 at 1:02 pm |
  107. Michele Zumwalt

    I have a cousin who has a Vet. clinic and another cousin who works in an ER and they were comparing the costs for the EXACT same medical supplies (same upc's, same supplier) and the costs to the ER were 1000 times more for the SAME supplies....why???

    I would suggest that Vet medicine is run the way old fashion healthcare used to work in our county. Now, we have a TON of middle men adding to the cost....they have to go! We have to get back to paying directly for services and helping each other when need be.

    March 1, 2010 at 1:03 pm |
  108. marie

    What about cutting Medicare? It is stealing from it's youth!!!!! Somehow I doubt any Republican would ever support cutting Medicare which right now is almost more than half our budget. What is wrong with this picture???????? The press never mentions cutting Medicare, but it has to be dealt with!!!!!

    March 1, 2010 at 1:05 pm |
  109. Christie Hudson

    Reply to jacqueline March 1st, 2010 10:16 am ET

    The hospitals want consumers to think they have to charge these prices to cover the people that can't pay. In my opinion, a 1,000 percent and higher mark up is price gauging and should be unexceptable. It is not allowed in other industries.

    March 1, 2010 at 1:11 pm |
  110. Blind Prophet

    Apparently there are as many Medical Pirates these days as there are Banking and Wall Street Pirates. Unscrupulous people who care more about how much they can get away with than they do actually doing their jobs properly. Obviously deregulation or self-regulation is not possible in ANY industry because people are obviously unable to act ethically without the threat of prosecution. Other professionals have gone down for over or false billing under mail fraud statutes, so it's about time that EVERYONE who has been involved in this type of behavior whether at hospitals or insurance companies be jailed and fined TWICE the value of the monies they stole. That should teach them a lesson!!!

    March 1, 2010 at 1:28 pm |
  111. Candy Butcher

    Response to: TK March 1st, 2010 10:19 am ET

    Without seeing your bill, I would bet the tylenol should have been a non-billable routine item and the guaze as well.

    March 1, 2010 at 1:36 pm |
  112. Michael

    Is there a place where all the complaints about crazy bills can be directed and collected? We really need a centralized domain. My insurance paid $273 for 10 minutes of casual conversation with a doctor before the test. the test procedure will be billed separately.

    March 1, 2010 at 1:36 pm |
  113. sunrose1

    Just contacted both Senators regarding this. The Republican office was politely dismissive. The Democratic office was fully aware and said my remarks would be passed along to the person handling these issues. I directed them to the story/video link on CNN. The reception of those calls are examples of the difference between political approaches.

    The excuse that hospitals are passing costs onto others because some else can't pay is like a police officer arresting an 80-year old man standing on the street because they couldn't catch the 20-year old who stole from a pharmacy. In this country, that's not allowed. (And while people do get falsely arrested, those situations are generally resolved at some point. When it takes 10 or 20 years to get to the truth, it costs the prosecuting entities millions in restitution and the victim's life is never the same – like those who have to take bankruptcies because of medical bills.)

    What's going on is false billing; excuses are unacceptable. Plain and simple. It has to be some kind of fraud. If it isn't, it needs to be. It must be addressed – NOW.

    March 1, 2010 at 1:38 pm |
  114. juls

    i was charged $1500 by the hospital after i came in with a hurt knee in a soccer collision. They sent me out with a diagnosis of "injured left leg."

    March 1, 2010 at 1:42 pm |
  115. Randall

    I recently had a laproscopic gall gladder surgery Adena Hospital in Chillicothe Ohio... I went to E.R on 1-5... full gall bladder attack, after having an xray, blood work and 2 pain shots, was told I MIGHT have abdominal pain. I was given Vicoden and sent home. Stone was lodged in the bile duct all week. I went back on 1-8(weather was so bad I had to go to the closest hospital) I ended up spending the night and had my gall bladder removed. Surgeon said it was about an hour from rupturing. I am being billed 129.00 for a warm blanket.... 500 for a scalpel... 134 each time they shot the pain meds in my IV... 50 for each time they put the oxygen sensor on my finger... 420 for the 1st ER doc who never touched me... my total bill is around 23,000 for an outpatient laproscopic gall bladder removal... funny thing is that their website lists the average charge as being 6,500... when I have called repeatedly to ask about the high charge, I am given the run around.. I have filed a complaint over the first ER visit, but the hospital refuses to address it... I have no insurance, abnd contrary to previous posts, they do not treat us for free.. I am completely self pay.

    March 1, 2010 at 1:43 pm |
  116. Paula

    No wonder our health insurance premiums are so high. That $3 toothbrush from Walmart does just as well as the $1000 toothbrush the hospital is selling. This kind of mark up should be considered as medical fraud and nothing less.

    March 1, 2010 at 1:51 pm |
  117. Candy Butcher

    Reply to: mike March 1st, 2010 10:19 am ET

    I want to say from our experience at MBAA, physicians are more responsive in correcting any errors brought to their attention than hospitals that normally put up a resistances when asked to take off items that should not be billed.

    March 1, 2010 at 1:53 pm |
  118. Pat

    Reply to: Louise Trail March 1st, 2010 10:23 am ET

    It is my impression that the price of the drugs itself covers the pharmasist. However the aspirin is a floor stock item that is not billable and is not brought up by the pharmacy. The nurse's cost is included in the room and board charges.

    March 1, 2010 at 2:09 pm |
  119. Jack Tancredi

    Just saw Dr. Elizabeth Cohen's report on excessive hospital charges that were not challenged by insurers. I believe these excesses are more common than anyone would believe. This was an important report and should require continued probing by the media. Reports like this do more good for much-needed health care reform than all the rhetoric on Capitol Hill. Also, it focuses the major problem to the hospitals, which is a major cost-driver for insurers.

    Dr. Cohen, good job. You go girl!

    March 1, 2010 at 2:27 pm |
  120. Charles Campbell

    The democrats should stop whining about bipartisanship in regard to helping the American people with healthcare. Show some guts and get the job done. Elizabeth Cohen's report on hospital waste (why can't you say fraud?) shows how hospitals gouge patients for fees that are hundreds or thousands of dollars higher than what they should be. Examples discussed were $140 for a tylenol pill, $58 for a pair of cheap disposable gloves, charging for 40 IV bags when only 1 was used. (sounds more like fraud than waste to me) Insurance companies simply raised their costs to patients and subscribers to cover the greed from hospitals and within the insurance companies themselves. Physicians were always traditionally and erroneously blamed for rising healthcare costs. The truth is that physicians fees have not risen since the 80's. Physicians fees across the board have actually gone down. The insurance companies were allowed to set and pay out physicians fees to whatever they wanted to pay, not what the physicians services were actually billed for or worth. The money in healthcare should go to the patients and the people who actually provide care, not the greedy CEO's at the hospitals, insurance companies, and congressmen who are in collusion with this broken healthcare system. Healthcare needs to be fixed now.

    March 1, 2010 at 2:28 pm |
  121. John Keenan

    There was a million man march. Lets set a day to get America out to March and protest this fraud. Our government both local and national are too busy chasing the wrong things. Lets get this March going around election time and make this a major issue. How about 14 July, Bastille Day. We need to get our representatives attention or get new ones.

    March 1, 2010 at 2:46 pm |
  122. Jane - WI

    Good for JIm Bunning. The Democrats are the ones who have made a big deal of their "pay-go" philosophy. If that's what they want to do, then they should follow that plan across the board. It seems to me that their "pay go" talking point is just that.
    As far as the substance of the unemployment benefits, I'm curious how long we are to be expected to keep paying these people - 2 years, 3 years, 8 years??? From what I have seen, there are a whole of lot of illegals working right now. Why not have our own people on unemployment filling those jobs? They may not be the most pleasant jobs, but if you are taking money from Uncle Sam, no job should be beneath you. That would also solve the problem of illegals. their services would no longer be needed,and they could go home.

    March 1, 2010 at 2:57 pm |
  123. Jane - WI

    So far I've seen nothing in the Democrat's health "care" bill that actually addresses health care. The only thing being discussed is insurance. The insurance premiums are high because the doctor and hospital bills are high. What is being done to actually bring down the cost of the "care" itself? Years ago, our parents did not need insurance because a doctor bill was reasonable. Now, these charges have gone out of control. If, as Democrats tell us, doctors and nurses are behind their plan, I would ask if these doctors and nurses are willing to accept price controls on their own charges?

    March 1, 2010 at 2:59 pm |
  124. Olivier B.

    This story touches me personally. I'm a very healthy person. I'm rarely sick. But the last month, I had a big "illness with flu", with fever, muscle and head ache, vomiting and shaking. I've never experience such a crisis. I kept the bed for 3 days without being able to get up.
    When I felt strong enough (I live alone), I went to the hospital (Prince William Hospital, to not mentioning it). They took in emergency, gave me some tests, an x-ray and injected me just one shot for fever. I overall spent 4 hours there. I forgot to mention that I came in states just one year ago and I don't have insurance coverage.
    After the tests results came out, I went back home because there wasn't any reason to keep me there.
    Couple of weeks later, I started receiving bills:
    – $1908.34 For Prince William Hospital
    – $52 for Virginia Radiology associates
    – $95 for FPA Professional Lab Services
    – $ 441 for Emergency Medicine Associates
    A total of $2496.34 for just 4 hours in Hospital.
    Today I don't even know how to pay those bills. I called the Hospital to find a payment plan, and they say the can only accept $160 per month, which is still expensive for me.
    Anybody out there that can help me???

    March 1, 2010 at 3:16 pm |
  125. Pat

    Response to: John Keenan March 1st, 2010 2:46 pm ET

    I would be more than happy to join in as I am sure Medical Billing Advocates and its more than 85 members around the country.

    March 1, 2010 at 3:20 pm |
  126. Michael

    I've contacted Billing advocate mentioned in CNN presentation. That's a business. They will fight, or "fight" your bills for a fee.
    Please, CNN, tell the public: We need a central depositary for complains. So hospitals and doctors will know that crazy bills will not fly unnoticed.

    March 1, 2010 at 3:31 pm |
  127. walter

    Thanks Rick For Exposing the healtcare industry
    It is long overdue.
    Hospitals have Different rate charges
    if you dont have Insurane you will be Charged
    a rate that is up to 1/3 less than if they find out that you have Insurance
    the healtcare industry has ben screwing the insurance company's
    for a long time and therefore screwing the general pubic also

    March 1, 2010 at 3:39 pm |
  128. Rick Bettendorf

    It's unfortunate that there are really expensive and sometimes ridicules charges. The hospital charges and justifies these fees because they have to make up the costs of treating the uninsured. We also are a free market society and capitalist, so we are able to charge what the market will bear.Rick, you can't have it both ways. You can't fain outrage for this on one hand and then allow Senators and others to say that reform is not necessary. It also is not okay to let these guys get away with lying to us on your program just to get their opinion on your show.

    March 1, 2010 at 3:43 pm |
  129. Michael

    Healthcare does not follow the laws of free market. Because people always want the best, does not matter how much does it cost. there is an unnatural trend to offer more medical care that is needed to those who can pay. Read the book: "Money-driven medicine : the real reason health care costs so much", by Maggie maher, and you will find out why.

    March 1, 2010 at 5:16 pm |
  130. john Arthur martinez

    In January, we tried to check out my father-in-law from a rehabilitation facility in Central Texas, but we were impeded by a doctor who demanded that he examine my father-in-law, Bob Feist, before he signed the release papers, that he had not yet seen the patient–fair enough.

    My diligent sister-in-law verified with the staff that he had not see the patient. She then pointed to the SIX doctor examinations by this same doctor being billed to my father-in-law. Embarrassed and exposed the doctor and the facility removed the charges from the bill.
    –john Arthur martinez, Marble Falls, Texas

    March 1, 2010 at 7:28 pm |
  131. Bob G. Smith

    Yes, a couple of years back my wife had an operation. It was one of those rare cases when you actually spent the night. During the night check of vital signs her blood pressure was considered too low (even though her medical record talked of a low pressure, and she was given medication before, during and after surgery for it). Anyway the nurse called someone on staff, who never showed up to check on my wife.
    When the medical bills arrived there was the charge for a visit by the staff
    doctor. When I informed them no one had stopped in to check on her at first they said they could cut it by 50%. By the end of the conversation the charge was dropped. Happy ending.

    Here is a better story on the topic of health care. I retired early eight and a half years ago (company buy out) in that time our health care cost has increased by 1600% .... that's not a typo. Oh, and what is covered has been reduced and the deductibles have increased by a factor of ten. I realize some of the cost increase has to do with the fact the company cap was reached years ago.

    I am aware a lot of individuals have had much worse experiences and I hope in all cases they have good ending.

    March 1, 2010 at 10:44 pm |
  132. Jcruz

    Who's watching? This is not only happening in hospitals. It is happening in our own cities. The government provides cities funding for many things. Who makes sure funding is being properly spent? Here is one ex.ample I see year after year. Funding for roads is issued to every city & state every year. The problem I see, the roads that are getting repaired don't need it. Why is this happening? No one is checking.

    March 2, 2010 at 12:16 am |
  133. A. Smith, Oregon

    The largest challenge facing hundreds of thousands of American Medical Association MD's in America is how to quickly replace the billions of dollars they invested in the stock-market and investment firms that were lost when the world's economy tanked 2008-2009 and they lost billions of dollars.

    Now AMA MD's have to come up with ever clever ways to hyper-markup routine office visits, pour on expensive tests and create as many follow-up visits as their patients insurance policy's will pay for. In short the biggest challenge today for AMA MD's is to hose their patients with more exorbitant charges and costs than they had before.

    March 2, 2010 at 12:34 am |
  134. Fred

    No, I have never had to battle a health care provider, but someone close to my heart has.

    March 2, 2010 at 6:36 am |
  135. Don

    In the health summit it was stated that 50% of the country is on some sort of government health coverage, and this coverage is better than anybody’s in the private sector. Do you think these people look at their bills, I think not. So if you’re not upset that they charge $1000 for a tooth brush you should be because in the end the tax payers are paying it.
    All week now the news has been stating the fact that the reason health care is so expensive is because doctor and hospital only see about 4 cents on a dollar in payments. If this is true, if we had a public option that payment percentage would go up considerably. If these hospital and doctor are still in the black at 4 cents on a dollar can you imagine how much money they would make if the payment percent would go up 50 to 75% on the dollar (or higher), they could cut the billing expensive in half and still make huge profits. It all comes down to doing the math. JUST ONE MORE REASON WE NEED A PUBLIC HEALTH CARE OPTION.
    As far as the cost of drug in this country, why do the politicians protect the drug companies? They didn’t stop cheep products from China coming into this country to save my job, so why do they protect the drug market. I guess when you have lots of money free trade and capitalism doesn’t apply. How do these politicians sleep at night?

    March 2, 2010 at 10:17 am |
  136. Jay Brooke

    Hi Kyra,

    I think it goes to show how much they think that money is THEIR money. Holding up money for Un Employee benifits and road projects, the nerve!

    We should stoop their pay checks until WE feel they deserve them, or have at least earned them.

    Why does Washington want to starve it's own people? Thats OUR money!

    March 2, 2010 at 10:21 am |
  137. Sandy

    I am going through the same thing with an Urgent Care provider. I had to go to Urgent Care on a Saturday because of a UTI that came on quickly. Very painful. When I received the bill, there was a charge of $160.00 that my insurance would not cover. Insurance was right. The charge was for "after hours" care. I believe the definition of urgent care usually involves after hours. I would have gone to my own doctor if it had been a work day. Bottom line is I guess I am expected to pay rent for the chair I sat in for 2 hours waiting to be seen. I have written a letter to urgent care refusing to pay the fee and have copied my congressman and Kathleen Sebelius.

    March 2, 2010 at 10:36 am |
  138. Michael

    Agree. Public option would make all the healthcare business transparent. In the meantime, insurance companies are sucking money that go to doctors and hospitals. And because they are private business, which is trying to maximize their profits, they are not transparent. But actions should be taken upon data of overbilling should be collected and analyzed. Currently there is no punishment of any kind for an exorbitant unjust billing. This situation should be fixed by the lawmakers.

    March 2, 2010 at 11:13 am |
  139. Maine

    If you have to ask – it's apparent! It needs to come down. It gives our children the wrong message. This is nothing against T.I. because I think he is a good guy that needed help and was lost. The marketing industry is just doing what it does and using any means to make a dollar. We need to step up to the plate and control the $$$ dollars!

    However, young people need to learn to respect themselves and not be brainwashed into thinking otherwise. If it does not pass the kiddie test then don't do it! If you would be embarrassed or lost for words trying to explain it to your kids if they saw you in the picture/movie/video (whatever) at ANY AGE then don't do it!

    March 2, 2010 at 11:20 am |
  140. Terrence

    Bunning is a heartless selfserving man, he is only showing his true colors becuase he is not up for re-election. This is causing havic for my situation, I am out of work and soley depend on unemployment and cobra to survive during this hard time in my life. What kind on person would do this to people.

    March 2, 2010 at 11:26 am |
  141. Ruth Hasman

    I was shocked when my daughter told me that she was charged $127,000 for the delivery of her baby on Aug. 1, 2009 and no doctor was in attendance! Most of it was covered by insurance, however, we felt it was outrageous. She checked with her insurer and the hospital and everyone thought this charge was okay. Her doctor wanted to know how many cars she bought for the hospital – I thought maybe they were going to build a memorial wing in her name!

    Finally she was able to talk to the billing supervisor, who came back and said OPPS! We charged you for 108 deliveries – that must be a record number of deliveries for one young woman. This has since been corrected.

    Encourage people to get an itemized billing from the hospital – there is a lot of incorrect billing.

    March 2, 2010 at 11:34 am |
  142. Donald DeMarcus

    I did not finish my comments to you.


    Guess who will win.

    I hope the Tea Baggers can get together with the Dem's and elimiate the special interest money.

    Don DeMarcus

    March 2, 2010 at 12:29 pm |
  143. Liliana

    My comment for the March 2nd story about shopping around for cheap health care. Although I wish things worked as presented by the reporter, unfortunately reality is not like that. When you need to have a medical procedure done at a hospital, usually your doctor will be affilitated to one hospital in your area and with this being said, any shopping around is elimitated. You have to use the hospital your doctor is affiliated to, and some times, even though the doctor is in network with your insurance (if you are insured), the hospital or the lab is not in network and you get hit with higher co-payments than you should and it's not realistic to ask your doctor to use only "in-network" providers, they just wont. That's one of the many ways our health care system is broken.

    March 2, 2010 at 12:50 pm |
  144. Gary Weinstein MD

    Health care reporter Elizabeth Cohen just did a storey on charges for procedures at different hospitals trying to understand why there is such a disparity from place to place. What she failed to understand or discuss is given that the majority of procedures are done through insurance companies and that insurance companies negotiates prices for their clients, the CHARGE has little to do with the COST. What would be much more relevant is to compare either actual costs of procedures from institution to insitution OR to compare the negotited prices that insurance companies actually pay for procedures from institution to institution. Most discounts (difference between charge and price paid) is at least 50%.

    March 2, 2010 at 1:50 pm |
  145. Brenda Hutcheson

    I wanted to discuss all of the foot dragging about medical care. I am so tired of the political backbiting. Not one time that I have gone to the doctor have they ever asked me if I was Democrat or Republican, only the way I was going to pay.

    March 2, 2010 at 6:13 pm |
  146. Pat

    Given the name, it is very possible that St. Joseph's is a Catholic hospital. Catholic hospitals here in New York treat those who have no insurance, and those whose insurance benefits have run out. They also treat many illegal aliens. While the hospital didn't respond to Ms. Cohen's request for information, it is possible that they charge more to those who have insurance to offset the costs of treating those who don't. An article appeared recently in the New York Times about St. Vincent's Hospital, which is just about bankrupt, stating that unlike other hospitals, it continues to treat those who cannot afford care. Other Catholic hospitals in the city have closed because of financial problems – they too treated those who could not afford care.
    It is unfortunate that Ms. Cohen's segment apparently left some people with the impression that the higher costs were an attempt at fraud, while just the reverse is probably true.

    March 2, 2010 at 8:40 pm |
  147. Will Dudley

    How you challenge a charge is as important as what you're challenging.

    A credit report means about as much as the paper it's written on. I own my life, I don't owe my life. I'm 58 and suffer from extraordinary good health. I got a crazy medical bill for a normal procedure, and I just didn't pay it.
    Nobody came to drag me away and my doctor didn't cut me off.

    March 3, 2010 at 10:45 am |
  148. vicki

    Medical bills are confusing and hard to sort out, especially when you have complimentary coverage like Medicare and supplemental insurance. We need government oversight and transparency on billing rates.

    The Republican spokespersons are not telling the truth and we rely on CNN. They claim the healthcare bill will take away Medicare benefits. Wrong. It will take away the 15% that goes in the pockets of the insurance companies in Medicare Advantage only. Where are you on this? Keep them honest.

    March 3, 2010 at 12:19 pm |
  149. paul

    When you go to the hospital you have to pay. Why do you keep talking about getting free care. If you can not pay at the time they send you a bill later. Who are you trying to fool about the hospital not getting paid?

    March 3, 2010 at 12:37 pm |
  150. Jennifer

    I went in to get a deviated septum fixed and discovered a few weeks later that the ENT broke my nose during the procedure. The Doctor would not pay to fix my nose, or my insurance, and no lawyers would take my case because it was not enough money for them. I was out $4500 to fix my nose. Why doesn't insurance help us when we need it?

    March 3, 2010 at 1:01 pm |
  151. Aaron E. H.

    I just closed my Health Savings Account. Note: my account was charged for every transaction, a monthly fee, and a yearly fee. So the money saved from it being tax free, was PAID to the bank (who held my HSA) in account fees. Does that make sense?
    I will not be surprised if the bank sends me a bill for closing the HSA account.

    March 3, 2010 at 1:54 pm |
  152. Michael

    Jennifer, I would definitely go to your local small claims court, medical association where your Doctor is a member, better business bureau, your local mass media, and internet chat room where his name will be mentioned.. But before you do this; share your plans with your Doctor. My wife had a pain in her ribs, and we went to ER, where 11 people became involved, including two doctors, each separately. They did not find the source of her pain, but injected her with a pain control medication. Next day our family physician found that she had shingles, inflammation that when away by itself in two days. Bill from ER was $4,200 paid by insurance.

    March 3, 2010 at 2:08 pm |
  153. Claire

    The report that aired today on CNN claiming that hospitals should force doctors to reduce the number of C-sections to cut costs was ludicrous and irresponsible. I am a nurse and now work in a supply chain role to search for ways to reduce expenses without putting quality and outcomes at risk. Surgeries are done for many clinically indicated reasons, and in the US, sometimes to prevent malpractice litigation, which is driving young docs away from OB. Older women having babies, younger women without good prenatal care, and higher risk pregnancies which would have been impossible decades ago often require C=sections to protect the health of the mother and child. Your reporter is sending the wrong message to a public who believes everything the media tells them.
    CNN – do your homework! Investigate the real causes for overwhelming heathcare costs – look into prices hospitals are forced to pay for costly new technologies, clinically unproven new "toys"; and that very often insurers refuse to pay for. Then look at where the same manufacturers spend their healthy profits – more is spent on sales teams with six figure incomes, TV ads and marketing to MDs and the public than on R&D! Our nation needs to establish some reasonable cost controls on equivalent devices, and force insurers to pay those costs, so hospitals can cover the costs of providing the same quality of care, rather than luring physicians with promises of unrestricted wish lists in exchange for patient volume.
    There need to be "generic" options for medical devices, just as there are for pharmaceuticals, and the AMA and the FDA could establish an independent multidisciplinary review board to oversee that process. So CNN, please use your persuasive platform to educate the public with the facts, not inaccrurate and oversimplified sound bytes!

    March 3, 2010 at 3:33 pm |
  154. Kim M.

    When our Doctor's and Dentists are slowly doing away with signing contracts with the Healthcare Providers, there's a problem. When you work for a government entity, and your insurance should be good anywhere, but all the doctors and dentists won't even take government supplied insurance, THAT IS REALLY A PROBLEM! According to doctors and dentists in our area, they are not signing contracts with ANY healthcare providers due to the healthcare providers wanting the doctors and dentists to do business "their way" and the doctors and dentists want to do what's right for their patients but are stunted in doing so due to the insurance company telling them what they can and can't do!

    March 4, 2010 at 12:59 pm |
  155. Matha Blocker

    Subject: charges for Pacifiers: I am wondering if the parent of that infant was asked for permision to give the child a pacifier! I raised five children and did not use a Pacifier for any of themP I consider the use of a Pacifer as just starting a bad habit!

    March 5, 2010 at 10:36 am |
  156. patricia winter

    My dear recently deceased Mom spent weeks and weeks of her life trying to challenge medical costs – First for my Dad and then for herself. She was never, I mean never able to find a receptive ear. I suppose there are too many complaints. If the penalties for charging more than a reasonable amount for medications and treatments, were high enough, it would behoove everyone to cooperate and would save us billions.

    March 5, 2010 at 1:28 pm |
  157. Kim M.

    The term you use for medical challenges is "Customary and Standard Charges". It is a doctor's as well as a hospital or any other medical person's billing understanding that they can't fight. If they charge over what the government calls "Customary and Standard" you do not have to pay it in the state of Texas. Check with your state and see if that is the case for you. You shouldn't have to pay for someone else who can't afford their insurance. That is why most charges are exploded on you, the insured.

    March 5, 2010 at 2:08 pm |
  158. Kim M.

    I have challenged charges before and have WON! Now, the insurance company wasn't involved, but they could care less. They seem to pay regardless. I notified my insurance company that there was unusual charges on my operation bill for my gall bladder. I challenged it through the hospital, and got 4,568 removed from the bill. This was done because,,,,,,,in the bed in the semi-rivate room next to me was a woman with no insurance. The hospital administrator came in and told her her bill was being reduced from 8988.00 (+/-) to 4,500. I came unglued that they would reduce her bill and charge me full cost~ 12, 945.58!! Well, with the insurance discount of over 4500.00 and me talking the administrator to give me the same discount she gave the bed next store got me an additional 4568.00. The insurance company in no way was part of the negotiations and would have paid the full amount minus the 20% plus deductible!! Leaving me to pay more than I would have had to!!

    March 5, 2010 at 2:15 pm |
  159. andrea vetter

    I saw my dermatologist in Yuba City, CA twice in 2009 for my semi-annual mole check. The charges were: Office Visit for mole check-$75, freezing of face lesion-$95, small biopsy with one suture-$114. After adjustment by my PPO insurance, I paid the full balance remaining, as I have a high deductible. I called his office in January 2010 to find out if he was an in-network provider for my new insurance, also a PPO. I was informed that he had just "affiliated" with Sutter Medical Foundation. I asked "How does this affiliation affect me? How will that impact me?" and was told,"Oh, in a good way, because he's a provider of your plan." No mention was made that his fees had increased by 200%! The bill I received from Sutter for this recent visit was: Office Visit for mole check-$180, Freezing of small scalp lesion-$322, shave biopsy of small lesion(no sutures)-$318!! Total bill was $820. After adjustment by my insurance-$609. Needless to say, I am disputing these charges, especially after I specifically asked how I would be affected by his new "affiliation" with Sutter. I have sent a letter to Patrick Fry,CEO of Sutter Health, with a copy to my dermatologist. I mailed a check to Sutter for the amount I was previously charged for these services and wrote "Payment In Full" on the check, which they deposited. I also wrote to Sutter's billing departmen, informing them that I am disputing these charges and requesting they contact me, in writing, with the names of the people with whom I can make contact regarding this process. I am still waiting for any response from Sutter or from my doctor. I am an RN, with 15 1/2 years of experience in a doctor's office, and we always notified our patients of fee increases.

    March 5, 2010 at 6:51 pm |