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This Woman Got A $5,000 ER Bill, Without Even Seeing A Doctor

By Nadine / vendredi 11 mai 2018 10:00
There's no greater FML than the American healthcare system.

When Jessica Pell fainted and injured her ear, she did what most people would do: take a trip to the Emergency Room. However as most everyone knows, a trip to the ER can usually be pretty costly. And most insurance will not cover the entire cost. Vox has been reaching out to people who have received insane bills for little or no work having been done, and the result is crazier than you would think.

It is well known that just walking into the ER in the U.S. can rack up a costly bill that many people cannot afford. But when Pell entered Hoboken University Medical Center, she kept this in mind -- asking everyone around her if they were in her network, specifically to avoid exorbitant costs she knew she could not afford. 

“I was triaged, waited and taken to have myself examined,” Pell wrote in her letter to appeal the bill. “I specifically asked on multiple occasions, before anyone touched me, ‘are you out of network? If you are, I decline medical attention.’ I received an icepack and ace bandage and left to seek in-network medical assistance.”

Despite only being given an ice pack no other treatment, Pell still received a bill for $5,751.

“It’s for the ice pack and the bandage,” Pell said of the fee. “That is the only tangible thing they could bill me for.I decided to decline treatment because I can’t really afford any surprise bills right now,” she said. “The bill I’d probably incur would not be worth saving my ear, which was sad but a choice I had to make.”

The Hospital originally declined to discuss Pell's health bill.... until Vox began looking into the matter.

“While we cannot comment on rates for emergency room services, we are reaching out directly to the patient to work on a settlement/resolution to her satisfaction,” said a spokesperson for the hospital.

After the inquiries from Vox, the hospital decided to drop all charges and even reimburse Pell for the co-payment she made that day. 

Pell was lucky that day, but unfortunately, there are far too many stories without similar endings. Many families go into debt because of hospital bills, and in some cases, people can even becoming homeless.

If you or someone you know have a similar story, feel free to share in the comments below.

Photos: Jessica Pell/Vox.com
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Top comments
By  ARISKomuniszt  |  23

America reeeeally needs its own NHS. It's worked very well in Britain over the last 70 years and not even UKIP, the most right-wing party of note in the UK, even dares to question whether it should exist (yes privatisation is happening but that's a different story). Americans can spout all the PragerU rhetoric you like, but that's the truth, and the USA should learn to accept that fact.

By  Miss_Red  |  13

This is insane. America should have a public healthcare system like we do here in Australia. I had to have an ambulance called for me after i had a migraine so bad that i fainted at school one time. Because im in the Australian public healthcare system, it was billed straight to medicare. Yes, aussies pay tax. Those on benefits can choose to pay tax as well. Id rather pay my tax and not be slugged thousands for simple procedures, for visiting emergency or for having children. ive got three kids, last one i was a full week in hospital. My baby had to go into the NICU. I shudder to think how many thousands of dollars i would have been billed after the hospital saved mine and my baby's life if it wasnt for our healthcare system.
People have lost their livelihoods and homes due to crippling debt from medical bills.. you dont choose to suffer injury or sickness, babies dont choose to be born and sometimes the mother doesnt choose that either.
No one in such a developed and modern country should be dying of preventable/ managable injuries, sicknesses and diseases.
Healthcare IS a right. Not a privilege. And more or less, the australia public healthcare system works.

Comments
By  ARISKomuniszt  |  23

America reeeeally needs its own NHS. It's worked very well in Britain over the last 70 years and not even UKIP, the most right-wing party of note in the UK, even dares to question whether it should exist (yes privatisation is happening but that's a different story). Americans can spout all the PragerU rhetoric you like, but that's the truth, and the USA should learn to accept that fact.

Reply
  Zekfen  |  12

Have you seen the way the Federal government runs the VA? People have to drive hours to get to approved hospitals and sometimes months for appointments. It is an absolute mess. While great in idea, if the federal government takes over the management, half the population will be dead in a few years.

Reply
  ARISKomuniszt  |  23

Then elect a better Federal Government then! As I've said, it works in Britain and almost no Brit denies it... There's nothing inherent about American society that prevents a national health service from functioning. The NHS has been the singular greatest medical advancement in British history, finally making treatments available to all those who required it as opposed to solely the bourgeoisie. There is nothing, except the stubborn conservatism of American society, that prevents similar gains to be made in the States.

Reply
  storm74  |  9

How much money do doctors and nurses make in a public healthcare system? Are they considered government employees? My sister just graduated from nursing school and is about to take the test to become an RN so I'm genuinely curious about what the pay is like.

By  Miss_Red  |  13

This is insane. America should have a public healthcare system like we do here in Australia. I had to have an ambulance called for me after i had a migraine so bad that i fainted at school one time. Because im in the Australian public healthcare system, it was billed straight to medicare. Yes, aussies pay tax. Those on benefits can choose to pay tax as well. Id rather pay my tax and not be slugged thousands for simple procedures, for visiting emergency or for having children. ive got three kids, last one i was a full week in hospital. My baby had to go into the NICU. I shudder to think how many thousands of dollars i would have been billed after the hospital saved mine and my baby's life if it wasnt for our healthcare system.
People have lost their livelihoods and homes due to crippling debt from medical bills.. you dont choose to suffer injury or sickness, babies dont choose to be born and sometimes the mother doesnt choose that either.
No one in such a developed and modern country should be dying of preventable/ managable injuries, sicknesses and diseases.
Healthcare IS a right. Not a privilege. And more or less, the australia public healthcare system works.

By  Taurus_ChicKa  |  30

No truer statement has ever been spoken than the first sentence of this article. Our health care system is beyond messed up on so many levels. I had a tube put in my ear to bypass the Eustachian tube (I have Eustachian Tube Dysfunction) and almost a year later there's no improvement. $800. And that's after insurance. Went in for a follow up and the doctor, without telling me the cost, stuck a tube up my nose to check for a blockage interfering with the ear tube. Another $400 after insurance. And that's just that doctor. Also have a dental bill to pay (another $800), and normal monthly fees like a mortgage, car payment, health insurance ($400 a month), student loans, utilities, etc. Oh, and food. /americasucks

Reply
  Victoria Juan  |  4

i havent been to the dentist in over 10 years because I simply cannot afford it. i sprained my ankle 3 months ago and still cant walk on it right but cannot go to the doctor cause I already owe around 10,000 in medical bills. American healthcare is an absolute joke.

By  Kimberley Michelle Whitley  |  15

Not too long ago I received a call from a debt collector for a hospital visit in November. I did not go to the hospital in November, I wasn’t even in town.

By  fjvitt  |  4

Whether or not the hospital is in your network has no bearing on the hospital’s obligation to treat you. Under EMTALA laws, if you present to an ER, they have an obligation to screen and treat you until they determine that you do not have an emergency condition or it is stabilized. You “opting out” does not alleviate the hospital’s responsibility. We can’t have it both ways—treat everybody for everything and keep it cheap.

By  GinGin92  |  18

I'm about to be sued for a $6k medical bill, which I endured at the ER after I was drugged at a concert. I was incoherent and not really able to consent or say what I wanted, because if I had been, I would also have declined treatment and gone home.

They gave me a saline drip, and put me under some warm blankets. That's it. nothing was treated. I could have put on my warm pjs, drank some water and cuddled with my husband for free. Instead, I'm stuck with a huge bill I have no ability to pay, because debt collection refused any payment plan under $200 a month.

By  PhoenixChick  |  24

It's worse than homelessness. How many people die in the US because they, or their family, are too afraid of the financial burden to take them to the hospital or call for an ambulance?

By  Poodsnade  |  7

The main issue here is government healthcare, but not for the reason you'd expect, I'll explain why. You see, governments, in all their infinite wisdom, get to decide that they aren't paying the hospital for certain things. Now this is an issue for when the hospital needs $500 to break even and the healthcare only pays for one of the dozens of services the hospital provided to the patient. This means that the hospital must charge significantly more per service in order to break even in case healthcare decides it doesn't want to pay three quarters of the bill. So the solution isn't throwing more healthcare at it, but instead removing healthcare and instituting something that will promise to work with the hospitals rather than line their own pockets instead

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