10 Wildly Overinflated Hospital Costs You Didn’t Know About
A Tylenol pill for $15? Or $53 per pair of gloves? Here, a medical billing advocate reveals some of the crazy costs of some very basic medical goods.
Why exactly are our medical bills so high?
Investigative journalist Steven Brill explored this in a recent, hot-button Time magazine cover story. After spending seven months analyzing hundreds of bills from hospitals, doctors, drug companies, and medical equipment manufacturers, he discovered that health care costs are largely arbitrary, inflated, and unfair. “The healthcare market is not a market at all. It’s a crapshoot,” he concluded. “Everyone fares differently based on circumstances they can neither control nor predict.”
In our own investigation last year, Reader’s Digest learned that it pays to try to get to the bottom of your medical bills, because they’re subject to more errors and overcharges than you might think. Here, Pat Palmer, founder of Medical Billing Advocates of America, a group that helps patients handle medical bills, reveals examples of ridiculous overcharges on a patient’s itemized bill (which you usually need to ask for—and review with a fine-toothed comb). Learn some more secrets hospitals won’t tell you.
Charge to patient: $15 per individual pill, for a total of $345 during average patient stay
Patient belonging bag
Like a grocery bag, to hold your personal items.
Charge to patient: $8
Box of tissues
Sometimes listed as “mucus recovery system,” a single tissue box in a hospital costs $8.
Charge to patient: $8
Charge to patient: $53 per non-sterile pair (sterile are higher), for a total of $5,141 during average patient stay.
Cost is for the plastic cup used to administer medicine, not the actual medicine inside it.
Charge to patient, per cup: $10, for a total of $440 during average patient stay
Cuff, BP Adult
Use of blood pressure cuff in a hospital costs about $20.
Charge to patient: $20
Learn some surprising secrets your health insurance company is keeping from you.
Oral administration fee
Charge for a nurse to hand you medicine taken by mouth.
Charge to patient: $6.25 per instance, for a total of $87.50 during average patient stay
Improve your hospital stay with these tips straight from doctors and nurses.
Cost of use of the overhead light in an operating room.
Charge to patient: $93.50
Charge to patient: $23 per swab, for a total of $322 during average patient stay
Luckily, though, you don’t just have to helplessly accept these high hospital costs. Check out these tips to help lower your hospital costs.