Due to the relatively calm ER, my wife's paperwork was dutifully completed and processed and she was taken fairly quickly to Triage to determine a prognosis for the wound. As predicted, she would require stitches, three of them to be exact. We were then casually led to a room within the ER where she was directed to lay on a gurney and prepped by a kind nurse in anticipation of the doctor's appearance. The ER doc appeared and quietly dispatched the wound with three stitches and instructed us to have her hand checked in a few days.
By the time we left the hospital, we had spent a grand total of 48 minutes there...some sort of record I am sure! With a visit to check the wound a few days later (and a $50.00 charge), we set off on our summer travels. Upon returning, we received a notice of payment due for the 48 minute ordeal at the hospital's ER. According to the statement (which was conveniently NOT itemized), our insurance carrier paid a total of $862.70 for the serviced rendered by the Hospital. What came as a surprise though, was the demand that we owed a balance not paid by our insurance carrier... an additional amount of $650.00. What are the odds that an actual amount owed would be an exact $650.00 and not $627.48 or some more realistic number? But that is besides the point (and please do not think I have angst towards doctors...they are members of a very noble and intelligent class of folks...my Son-In-Law is a member of their Radiology ranks).
The point is that the total cost of 48 minutes in the local ER works out to at least $31 a minute or $504.26 per stitch! But what did it cost the family that needed their boy's broken arm fixed or the guy with the sore front tooth? Did they have insurance to cover their ER costs? How much of our charge is really not about the treatment we received, but about covering the Hospital's overall expenses to cover those without any health insurance? We hear a lot about how unfair the Obamacare ruling is and how it has taken more of our liberties and freedoms away from us by requiring everyone to have health insurance. But who will actually be taxed if they already have health insurance? I know it will not affect me, but instead may affect the 33 Million Americans who show up at the ER and expect treatment without any means to pay for it. Until we have everyone on some form of health insurance, aren't Americans like my wife and I subsidizing their costs for health care through outrageous charges for our services actually covered by insurance? If Obamacare was ruled unconstitutional or the GOP Congress successfully repeals the law, wouldn't folks with insurance continue to pay $31 per minute for health care in order to pay for the services rendered to those who choose not to have health insurance coverage? Before Obamacare, haven't we been taxed already?
As a follow-up, we received the requested itemized statement of charges from the hospital. On it we found $20o for pharmacy charges, but no explanation of what this charge is, and a "Fast Process" fee of $1,500 +, whatever that means. The total cost they claim is over $2,800, not the original $1,512 as thought. That would make the cost equal to $58 per minute or $933.00 per stitch. We will be asking what the Pharmacy charge was for before we pay them.