There are health care nightmares and then there is what happened to Eric Fergusan, 54, in North Carolina. Fergusan was bitten by a snake on the foot while putting out trash last August. He drove himself to the hospital and was given anti-venom medicine that can be purchased online for as low as $750. The bill” $89,227 bill for an 18-hour stay.
He is fortunately insured but it is the latest example of the how medical bills have become little more than openly fraudulent billing by hospitals. Drug and treatment costs have soared in this country because members of Congress and the Obama Administration yielded continually to this powerful lobby that hires former members and staff members and contributes mightily to campaign funds. The result is that citizens are being sheared like sheep as politicians fall over each other to help these lobbyists.
The Lake Norman Regional Medical Center is responsible for this outrageous bill. Blue Cross and Blue Shield reduced the total bill to $20,227 and the couple paid $5,400 out-of-pocket to cover their deductible and co-pay. So how does that work? The hospital charges roughly $90,000 and then suddenly drops to $20,000? In most other fields, that would be called fraudulent billing but, in the United States, it is considered standard billing procedures.
What is really amazing is the frank response of the hospital: “Our costs for providing uncompensated care are partially covered by higher bills for other patients.” In other words, we do not actually charge what your care cost but instead gouge anyone who can pay more to cover losses on other patients. Consider other industries following this practice. “Yes, your car was $40,000 but you have been charged $90,000 because we had some car loans fail with other customers” or “Yes, I agree to represent you for $100,000 but I have a hit-and-run defendant disappear without payment in his case so I am charging you $150,000.” What is equally alarming is the matter-of-fact attitude of the hospitals who first try to overcharge and then shrug and take, in this case, almost one-fifth of the original demand.
These abuses are reported everyday but you hardly see a member of Congress rushing to the floor to demand reforms. Why? Just look at who the former members are working for?