• Sat, Feb 23 2013

New Study Says Hospitals Are Really REALLY Overcharging Us

hospitalbills

I really can’t say I’m surprised, but a new study out from TIME magazine shows just how much Americans are overpaying for hospital care.

Steven Brill, a TIME contributor, did a seven-month study on hospital costs and billing and found that “everyone’s making an exorbitant profit.” He shared the story of Emilia Gilbert, a woman who broke her nose and was charged  $9,418, including $6,538 for some CT scans that should have only cost the hospital about $800 for all three under Medicare rates.

Brill found that non-profit hospitals, in particular, are guilty of marking up procedures far, far beyond their actual worth. In one case, he found that a hospital charged a 10,000% markup for a single pain relief pill.

Obviously, hospitals have to make some kind of profit, to pay their employees, buy their supplies and maintain their facilities and equipment, but charging $7,997 for a stress test that Medicare pays about $554 for, as happened to one patient, seems more than excessive: it seems exploitative.

Brill says that what most people don’t know is that you can actually negotiate your bill with the hospital—that’s certainly something I had no idea was a possibility. Here are some tips for negotiating medical bills, if you ever find yourself in the position to need to do so.

Have you ever discovered you’d been overcharged for a medical bill? Have you ever negotiated payment for a medical bill? I’m curious to know.

Photo: Shutterstock

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