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It Doesn’t Pay to Get Sick

Actually, it does pay somebody. Unfortunately, that somebody isn’t me. In fact, I’m the one doing the paying (some of it, at least).

You may recall my mysterious sore throat/rash combination from a few months ago (wow – has it been that long?). I finally got the bill for my trip to the emergency room and I nearly yelped out loud when I saw it.

The first thing I should mention is that I have insurance so this is only costing me $60.00.

The second thing I should mention is that I was only in the emergency room (I was never given an actual room in the normal part of the hospital). I was also not given any medication (except for Tylenol), but I was still on IV most of the time (I used 4 bags). My entire stay in the emergency room was less than 24 hours (mid-afternoon Saturday through mid-morning Sunday). I was not provided lunch or dinner on Saturday and was only given some cereal, milk and orange juice on Sunday morning as I was sent home.

In my naive little head, I was expecting such an experience would cost around $2,500 or $3,000. That seemed logical. I mean, there was no surgery. I was basically just being monitored.

Well, apparently, a few hours of simple monitoring these days is worth $12,907.00. That’s more than a minimum-wage earner makes in an entire year! And that’s how much this hospital got for looking at me for only 18 hours or so. More infuriating, even at that price the hospital still misdiagnosed me! (my primary care physician confirmed what I had at a follow-up visit to his office on Monday…and it wasn’t what the hospital claimed I had).



  1. Comment by J.P. on August 4, 2006 1:11 pm

    Thank goodness you didn’t get the expensive meal with pancakes and sausage. That would have brought the bill up to $20K!

  2. Comment by Sara on August 4, 2006 1:27 pm

    That is crazy!! In March, I was in the hospital for 5 days (well, 4 1/2) to have a baby, by C-Section, nonetheless, and the tally was only $5900!! (and I got a lot better drugs than just Tylenol, I assure you!)
    That just sucks that the hospitals charge so much.

  3. Comment by Fred on August 5, 2006 10:50 am

    Hmmm…I’m wondering if this is the kind of thing one might want to report to the insurance company and/or whatever governmental oversight agency on such things as freakin’ ludicrous…. All of us pay ridiculous amounts on our health insurance (if we’re so fortunate as to have it/be able to afford it at all) because of insanity like this. Even the $3K you thought might be ‘reasonable’ woulda meant you could have stayed in the best suite at the Ritz and eaten a good deal better, albeit without monitoring, IV drip, or the machine that goes ‘ping!’


  4. Comment by Will on August 6, 2006 8:29 pm

    Karl, I raised two daughters and got very good at diagnosing what they had and how to handle it. When they had to go to the doctor, I was generally able to tell the doctor (in addition to all teh symptoms, temperatures, etc.) what it seemed to be and I was almost invariably correct.

    So, the next time you’re sick, why not come down here instead of Emergency. I’ll let you know what you’ve got and feed you a great deal better than the Hospital. And I’ll be delighted to accept the modest $3000 you feel that it’s worth.



  5. Comment by snarl on August 6, 2006 9:34 pm


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