Another Reason Health Care Costs So Damn Much

Sherry Young of Lawton, Oklahoma had a foot problem that a surgeon said he could fix.  She had the operation and he fixed it.

Then she got the bill.  There was a problem with her insurer over it and the insurer threatened to stick her with the entire tab:  more than $115,000.  Ms. Young eventually worked it out with her insurer – they were just being insurance a-holes – but during the process of working it out she asked the hospital for an itemized bill.

On that bill she noticed that the hospital had charged her $15,076 for four screws the surgeon inserted into her foot.

$15,076 for four screws.

$15,076. Will that be cash or charge?

Ms. Young asked the hospital for the name of the screw manufacturer and the screws’ serial numbers.  They dummied up and wouldn’t tell her.  Later, when she went public with her story, reporters did the leg work for her, identifying the manufacturer and learning from an executive there that while they would not disclose the exact price they charge for the screws, they generally charge hospitals less than $300 per screw for most foot and ankle screws and about $1000 for their most expensive foot and ankle screws.

In other words, the hospital charged Ms. Young $15,076 for four screws that cost, at most, somewhere between $1200 and $4000.

That is one helluva mark-up charged by the Oklahoma University Medical Center.  That is greed and price-gouging and cheating the customer of epic proportions and it’s yet another reason why health care costs so damn much in this country these days.

 

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