Fighting Overcharged Bills from Predatory Hospitals

Frank Griffin.

Hospitals routinely expect patients to pay different prices for the same services and often ask the most vulnerable patients to pay ten to twenty-five times as much as the hospital routinely accepts as payment in full. For a service that the government allows participating hospitals to charge its patients $117 in 2019 dollars, some hospitals may charge patients up to $3254 for the same service, and most hospitals charge almost $500 for that same $117 service. Excess hospital charges or “markups” pose a significant financial burden (including frequent bankruptcies) on uninsured and out-of-network patients and cause some people to avoid necessary emergency or urgent care leading to unnecessary deaths and disabilities. Vulnerable patients in times of crisis enter a hospital believing they are in a safe haven—similar to Little Red Riding Hood entering her Grandmother’s house; however, waiting inside the hospital is a billing machine ready to pounce with a life-crushing, overcharged medical bill that would make the Big Bad Wolf blush. Predatory hospital bills exploit people in their most vulnerable state (during a medical crisis) and ruin lives, hopes and dreams by creating financial disaster—sometimes even from relatively minor physical injuries.

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