Your total is $44.8 million. Will that be cash, check, or charge?

Medical care is the only purchase you ever make without knowing how much it will cost. And, if you ask, they won’t tell you. But they will say that if you have to ask, you probably can’t afford it.

Wait a minute, this is the United States. We’re talking about medical care – we already know we can’t afford it.

The only real question is whether, based on the size of the bill, we will have to:
1) get a second job to make monthly payments for the next 25 years;
2) re-mortgage the house (not an option in today’s market);
3) become an egg donor (lucrative for the right age group but possibly not an option depending on the nature of the heath condition requiring treatment);
4) sell all our worldly goods, including our children, pets, and MLB Bobblehead collection;
5) get the treatment and then declare bankruptcy;
6) forego treatment and die.

So, unless opting for #6, you go ahead and sign the paperwork they make you sign before they start which says in really tiny print that’s several pages long what I can summarize for you in one short paragraph

By signing below you agree to pay whatever outrageous amount we say you owe (which will always be more than you actually owe because our bills are always wrong and we charge you for things you didn’t get but what difference does it make because you were unconscious for at least part of it or had your eyes closed or otherwise have absolutely no way to verify what we did or what medicines we gave you – it’s all in Latin for a reason and you can’t read our writing anyway so face it you really are screwed) no matter what the outcome of the treatment or your level of satisfaction for example if we cut off the wrong body part or you don’t get better or you die, you – or your estate – will have to pay up and if you don’t we will sue you and ruin your credit and make your life a living hell even if you died because of that staph infection you picked up while staying at our hospital yes we know it happens all the time but we don’t really care and if you don’t like it just try to sue us because thanks to “tort reform” you’ll never recover a penny.

Which is why, when a man in New York City recently opened his mail to find a $44.8 million bill from a local hospital, he was alarmed but not really surprised “because he had spent three weeks in the hospital with pneumonia.” He knew the bill would be big, he just didn’t know how big.

But then he realized that the date of service coincided with an outpatient visit for ear wax removal so wondered if the dollar amount might be a little steep. He called the billing people who told him he could go on their payment plan.

Enough other people had the same problem that eventually the billing service stopped answering the phone. Instead, callers heard a recorded message: “If you are calling with respect to a billing statement charging you over $44 million for services, please disregard the statement. You will be receiving a new statement shortly.”

The new statements were adjusted down to $44 million. The billing service argued that an $800,000 adjustment was an unprecedented reduction so people should be grateful enough to pay the remaining balance.

But don’t worry, your payment will NOT be going to pay for excessive executive compensation. As the CEO of Mercy Health Systems (defending his $3.6 million compensation package) said with a straight face: his salary has no effect on health care costs because his hospitals will probably overcharge you no matter what he makes.

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Posted on January 17, 2012, in Commentary, health care, Humor, Other. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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