Young, a retired librarian on disability and mother of two from Oklahoma was sent the crippling bill by OU Medical Center at the University of Oklahoma Health Science Center in Oklahoma City. Two weeks after surgery, Young received a letter from BlueCross BlueShield of Oklahoma, stating that it had not approved her hospital stay and that staying overnight was not “medically necessary,” and thus not covered.
She fought to get an itemized copy of her bill but when it was sent reluctantly, she found the screw charges. The OU Medical Center would not give her the part numbers for the screws in an obvious effort to prevent her checking the real prices. However, reporters found that these type of screws are normally below $300 and the most expensive is $1,000.
After considerable effort, the company agreed to cover the costs but the problem still remains the system itself where hospitals inflate reported costs. This happened to my family when my son Benjamin had a concussion from playing college sports. He was asked to fill out a form once every couple days on his condition and drop it off at the doctor’s office. He never saw a doctor, but we received a bill for thousands, including repeated charges $350 for visits with doctors who never met him. He was never hospitalized or taken to the emergency room. He was never given any medication. Yet we were charged many thousands of dollars. It took my wife literally dozens of calls before she was told that the school insurance would cover the costs. Again, the overcharging by the doctor who never met Ben was never addressed.
After all of the “reforms,” little has changed in this inherently dishonest system of overcharging and holdouts for consumers. Some, particularly elderly patients, simply pay while the rest of us have to spent hours getting the companies to honor their policies. I have spoken with many doctors who are appalled by the system. Yet, Congress continues to receive millions from health care companies and has repeatedly failed to address this corrupt and abusive system.