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Thread: New Jersey Hospital Charges Man Nearly $9K to Bandage Cut Finger

  1. #1

    Default New Jersey Hospital Charges Man Nearly $9K to Bandage Cut Finger

    Thanks Obama....


    A New Jersey hospital charged a teacher nearly $9,000 to put a bandage on his middle finger, an NBC 4 New York I-Team investigation has found.

    Last August, Baer Hanusz-Rajkowski, of Bayonne, accidentally cut his finger with the claw-end of a hammer. He says he waited a few days for it to heal but the cut didn’t seem to be closing so he went to the Bayonne Medical Center emergency room to ask whether he should get stitches.


    The nurse practitioner determined no stitches were necessary, he says. There was no X-ray either.

    Instead, Hanusz-Rajkowsk got hit with a $8,200 bill for the emergency room visit, the I-Team has learned. On top of that, Bayonne Medical Center charged $180 for a tetanus shot, $242 for sterile supplies, and $8 for some antibacterial ointment in addition to hundreds of dollars for the services of the nurse practitioner.

    In total, the bill was nearly $9,000.

    “I got a Band-Aid and a tetanus shot. How could it be $9,000. This is crazy,” Hanusz-Rajkowski said. “If I severed a limb, I’d carry it to the next emergency room in the next city before I go back to this place."


    Dr. Mark Spektor, President and CEO of Bayonne Medical Center, blamed the high ER bill on Hanusz-Rajkowski’s insurance company -- United Healthcare.

    Almost six years ago, a company called Carepoint Health bought Bayonne Medical Center and turned it into a for-profit business. After that, Carepoint did not renew its in-network pricing contract with United Healthcare, Spektor says. He says Hanusz-Rajkowski's bill was so high because United fails to offer fair reimbursement rates.

    “These sticker price charges only apply to ... a minority of patients whose insurance companies have refused to negotiate fair contracted prices with us,” Spektor said.

    But Mary McElrath-Jones, a spokeswoman for United Healthcare, suggested Carepoint is pursuing a predatory business model that avoids cutting price deals with insurers.

    “United Healthcare is deeply concerned about hospitals establishing an out-of-network strategy to hike the rate they charge for emergency room services, often surprising patients. Our members are very frustrated at receiving these egregious hospital bills so we are working to curtail outrageous billing and to help provide affordable healthcare options for our members.”

    New Jersey law requires insurers to pay for ER treatments, whether or not there is an in-network price deal.

    The New Jersey Association of Health Plans, a trade association representing insurance companies, has argued Carepoint is effectively using a consumer protection law to price gouge emergency room patients. Ward Sanders, the association’s president is now calling for a price ceiling on emergency room procedures.

    “There’s a statute in New Jersey that deals with emergency conditions like Superstorm Sandy. But something along those lines that would prevent price gouging in the context of emergency rooms,” Sanders said.

    But Spektor said capping the price his emergency room can charge insurance companies would put the financial viability of the hospital in peril. When Carepoint bought the medical center, it was on the verge of bankruptcy. A 2007 economic report estimated keeping the institution open saved 1,000 jobs.

    “Insurance companies in the state of New Jersey particularly have had record profits last year. Billions of dollars in profits while hospitals are struggling and closing. That is the real story,” Spektor said.

    It’s not just ER visits that can be expensive for out-of-network patients at Bayonne Medical Center. Medicare data shows the hospital charges some of the highest prices in the nation for dozens of the most common in-patient procedures. Carepoint has also purchased hospitals in Hoboken and Jersey City -- turning them into for-profit ventures too.

    Since turning Bayonne Medical Center into a for-profit venture, Spektor says the hospital has become profitable. He would not reveal the facility’s profit margin on the $8,200 emergency room visit.

    Linda Schwimmer, vice president of the New Jersey Health Care Quality Institute, estimated the charge is more than ten times the true cost of treating a cut finger.

    “I can tell you the right price is somewhere between the neighborhood of $400 and $1,000," Schwimmer said. "And I know that because I’ve called around and asked, but why doesn’t everybody know that?”

    Schwimmer wants New Jersey to create a public database where average prices for medical procedures are available for reference.

    “If there was a list when he walked in the door saying this is going to cost you $8,200, he would have been running down the street,” Schwimmer said, referring to the bill charged to Hanusz-Rajkowski.

    United Healthcare has settled its portion of the bill, about $6,640. Hanusz-Rajkowski was responsible for the balance, but after questions from the I-Team, Spektor said the hospital has written off his portion of the debt.

    “I understand there is no balance due on this bill,” Spektor said.

    I-Team: New Jersey Hospital Charges Man Nearly $9K to Bandage Cut Finger | NBC New York

  2. Default Re: New Jersey Hospital Charges Man Nearly $9K to Bandage Cut Finger

    Thanks Obama!

  3. #3

    Default Re: New Jersey Hospital Charges Man Nearly $9K to Bandage Cut Finger

    That is crazy!..

    HOwever the thing I kept asking myself while reading this was.. WHy did he go to an ER. people need to get out of the habit of using the ER as their primary care physician!

  4. Default Re: New Jersey Hospital Charges Man Nearly $9K to Bandage Cut Finger

    Quote Originally Posted by Bullbear View Post
    That is crazy!..

    HOwever the thing I kept asking myself while reading this was.. WHy did he go to an ER. people need to get out of the habit of using the ER as their primary care physician!
    Agreed. He obviously had health insurance and had waited a couple of days anyway..... Why didn't he make an appointment with his doctor or go to a pharmacy type 'doc-in-a-box'?

    Lack of common sense on all sides.

  5. #5

    Default Re: New Jersey Hospital Charges Man Nearly $9K to Bandage Cut Finger

    This isn't Obama. It was a problem long before the Affordable Care Act passed. This is how capitalism and medicine work together. Why are pharmaceutical stocks so profitable? Why are providers of medical equipment raking in billions? Why do for-profit hospitals exist? Why do CEO's of health insurance companies have huge salaries and perks? Capitalism! You either accept it and pay the price or you think about options like Canada and Europe.

    And you have people who consider a cold or a cut finger an emergency.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: New Jersey Hospital Charges Man Nearly $9K to Bandage Cut Finger

    Quote Originally Posted by MadMonk View Post
    Thanks Obama!
    Please explain with facts how this is an Obama issue. Unless, of course this is just another knee-jerk tea party response. In that case there will be no facts or logic.

  7. #7

    Default Re: New Jersey Hospital Charges Man Nearly $9K to Bandage Cut Finger

    I think the tongue sticking out indicates sarcasm.

  8. #8

    Default Re: New Jersey Hospital Charges Man Nearly $9K to Bandage Cut Finger

    Quote Originally Posted by silvergrove View Post
    I think the tongue sticking out indicates sarcasm.
    as was mine

  9. #9

    Default Re: New Jersey Hospital Charges Man Nearly $9K to Bandage Cut Finger

    I think it was more of the... " My soup is cold... Thanks Obama!" type remark.. people are TOOO serious..lol

  10. Default Re: New Jersey Hospital Charges Man Nearly $9K to Bandage Cut Finger

    Quote Originally Posted by Bullbear View Post
    I think it was more of the... " My soup is cold... Thanks Obama!" type remark.. people are TOOO serious..lol
    Exactly. Sorry if I got anyone riled up.

  11. #11

    Default Re: New Jersey Hospital Charges Man Nearly $9K to Bandage Cut Finger

    Last summer we went to a minor emergency here in Norman twice. I have no insurance, and I paid $72.00 cash for UTI lab work, visit and prescription. That was it. My husband went in for two stitches in his left hand. He has insurance. He paid his $20.00 copay and later the bill came - $538.00. The insurance eventually paid all but $65.00, 14 months later. This is ridiculous.

  12. Default Re: New Jersey Hospital Charges Man Nearly $9K to Bandage Cut Finger

    Quote Originally Posted by Mr T View Post
    Last summer we went to a minor emergency here in Norman twice. I have no insurance, and I paid $72.00 cash for UTI lab work, visit and prescription. That was it. My husband went in for two stitches in his left hand. He has insurance. He paid his $20.00 copay and later the bill came - $538.00. The insurance eventually paid all but $65.00, 14 months later. This is ridiculous.
    That seems pretty reasonable compared to a $9,000 bill!

  13. #13

    Default Re: New Jersey Hospital Charges Man Nearly $9K to Bandage Cut Finger

    Yes! If it was that much we would have had a couple of heart attacks!

  14. #14

    Default Re: New Jersey Hospital Charges Man Nearly $9K to Bandage Cut Finger

    The reason for everyone's bill being high at any hospital is due to insurance. Example....Three people go visit a hospital for a broken arm. Each person has a different insurance and that insurance pays out differently for each claim. One insurance has contracted with the hospital to pay $50 for an xray while another insurance will pay $75 and the third is $80. Do that for everything on the bill(ie: pain meds, cast, er doc etc). Most of the time the hospital does not even know what they have contracted to charge so they multiply the cost by 7-8 times to ensure they hit the cap on what the contract will pay for each insurance.

    What happens when you dont have insurance most times and go in for something, you get no discount and pay through the roof. A common misconception thrown around is people with no insurance go to hospitals and dont pay hurting the hospital. The amount of "charity" or written off patient debt is extremely minor and does not hurt the hospital. If I get time I can find a video explaining it with no politics involved.

  15. #15

    Default Re: New Jersey Hospital Charges Man Nearly $9K to Bandage Cut Finger

    Insane greed by pharmaceutical companies and hospitals are the problem. Insurance companies just try to stay afloat.

  16. #16

    Default Re: New Jersey Hospital Charges Man Nearly $9K to Bandage Cut Finger

    Overbearing government regulations for bringing a product to market and the patent system have a lot to do with what big pharma charges. They have to have some way to recoup their R&D expenses for all of the steps required to develop a product under FDA protocols. All those scientists don't come cheap and building full production facilities for clinical trials adds up quickly. Big pharma misses more on R&D than they hit on, something like a 10-15% rate gets approved through a process that can take up to 10 years. That is a lot of investments for a 10-15% approval rate. That is why they try to "reformulate" many drugs since the high R&D costs have been spent already.

    This is a bit ridiculous for what the article states. I have United Healthcare and it has been pretty good for us after spending most of January in the hospital with bacterial meningitis (ER, 6 days in ICU, 7 days in a regular room, 7 days in a rehab hospital) and a couple of sinus surgeries. Out of $170,000 on the hospital bill (not including rehab hospital) the insurance paid about $28,000 and our portion was around $2,800. Of course it was an in-network hospital but I wasn't exactly in a condition to dictate where they took me since I was in a coma for 5 days and don't recall anything from the day I went to the hospital.

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