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Q is for Questioning

Today's letter is Q.
For more Q posts,
click here.

A couple of letters ago, O to be exact, I griped about the high medical bills we got for the 10 stitches in the husband's finger at our local emergency department. They amounted to over $3,000 for about 45 minutes of medical attention. And, we were there for five hours. The doctor's bill was over $1,600. Man! I thought it would be about $300.

After getting the doctor's bill, we questioned all the charges, including the hospital's, which we had already paid. I talked with the emergency department director, who after trying to feed me the corporate line finally listened and understood my complaint. She became outraged at how much the emergency medical service, with which the hospital contracts, was charging. She told me that if we write a letter, she'd be sure to investigate our case.

So, that's what we did. We did our homework and learned that the contractor pays temporary emergency doctors who work at our hospital about $130 per hour. Why then did the company charge us $1,600 for the 25 minutes that the doctor spent with the husband? Makes your head spin, huh? Forget about saying supplies and equipment. That was covered in the hospital's bill.

The whole time we were sitting in the emergency department, the husband was applying pressure to his finger. Except for the intake nurse giving him a bandage, no other medical expert looked at his finger until the doctor saw him. So, how did the hospital come up with charging us over $900 for sitting on two chairs in the patient's room? Okay, occasionally, the husband sat on the bed.

We wrote a three-page letter with attached exhibits and sent our package to the hospital's gatekeeper of patients relations, as well as copies to the emergency department director, the hospital CEO, every member on the hospital board, and the contractor, which is based in Pennsylvania. You bet, we like to cover all our bases.

Yesterday, we got two results after a week's wait. First, the contractor slashed the doctor's bill by 40 percent. Hurrah!

Second, the medical director of the local emergency department spoke with the husband over the phone. It was a long conversation. The doctor's job, of course, was to tell us that the medical community is forced to follow the system in place. The husband firmly and calmly told the doctor that his answer was not acceptable. He let the medical director know that the local medical community needs to figure something to make their services affordable to patients, particularly those hurting financially in this economy. The hospital is the only game in town for emergencies, after all.

The husband also talked specifics, for which the medical director had no answers (yet), such as:
  • Why was there a redundancy of charges by the hospital and the contractor?
  • Why did it take so long for the husband to receive medical attention after he was placed in a patient's room?
  • Why does the contractor charge patients such high doctor rates?
  • Why did the hospital give us  a 20 percent discount when its contractor gave us a 40 percent discount for the same emergency management level?
The husband thanked the medical director for calling, but he told the director that he wants the director's answers in writing. I'm so proud of the husband.

The moral of the story: We don't give in to something that we think is unfair. We have to question the institutions. How could we live with ourselves, otherwise?


  1. Quite Right I am still addicted to chocolate

  2. Oh my word those fees are OUTRAGEOUS. I think here in the UK we forget how lucky we are with the free NHS. Thank you for reminding me!

    And good you questioned that bill!


  3. It's great that you managed to get the bill slashed.. that's really extremely expensive for medical services.

  4. I am so impressed. I know you have still waiting for some questions to be answered, but you got so big ones answered already! Hooray for the price deduction.

  5. Hooray for you! I had an ER visit two months ago and am still getting bills.It is impossible to understand them. Some are from Calif and I'm in S.C. ... labs work there? who knows?

    Proud of your stand!!

  6. That's really great that you were able to do something about it .

  7. Standing O for your husband! We should all do the same.

    No wonder medical costs are all out of proportion!



  8. I am so impressed! I love how you handled this....

  9. My husband and I are firm believers in questioning those impossible to read medical bills!

  10. That's the spirit! My hubby is your number one fan ;-P

  11. Turning cartwheels and shouting HUZZAH for you and the husband.

    Always, always read the contents label and the fine print on bills...


  12. Good for you. I think that insurance companies just pay the amount and we don't question it.

  13. Thank you, thank you, dear blogging friends for your high fives, hurrahs, cartwheels, and good year. The husband also sends his thanks and is delighted with the standing O. Getting all your positive feedback helps us sigh in relief that we aren't crazy. :-)

  14. That is absurd! we're lucky for having the NHS here and I wouldn't be wiothout it ever. It means EVERYONE gets medical attention and there are no bills to pay at all.
    I'm so glad you were refunded

  15. it is good to have questions..

    may good health and fortune be with you.


  16. First, congrats on being able to read the stupid bill! I swear they intentionally make those things nearly impossible to decipher.

    Second, congrats on sticking to your guns. Maybe this will lead to real change in the way your hospital works.

  17. I am so impressed that you didn't just take this bill at face value.

    You have taught me a valuable lesson. I am going to start reviewing our medical bills much more closely, and questioning those charges that feel unrealistic.

    You are both heroes today!

    Thank you for linking this to Alphabe-Thursday's letter "Q".



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Thanks for the good cheer. :-)

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