One elderly patient, who was taken to the emergency room of a hospital after falling out of bed, wound up being diagnosed with a series of problems requiring intensive testing and a stay in hospital followed by rehabilitation in a nursing home. The nursing home charges of $65,000 were the responsibility of the patient, given the elderly couple had no long-term disability insurance.
However, various additional charges stemming from his hospital care totaling $22,000 were analyzed line-by-line, as is Poole's habit in her detective work. She had reason to dispute the medical bill. Poole found charges for brand medications where the patient had ordered a generic. Some services were double-billed. The patient was also billed for a private room he didn't ask for, but got simply because the hospital had nowhere else to put him.
In total, after going over the emergency room cost and other examples of hospital overcharging, a bill for $22,000 was whittled down to $3,915.
There's more. The total hospital bill came out at $132,000. The patient was billed, for his share in one area, at $9,200 and was told he had ten days in which to pay. Upon investigation of ER charges and other costs by Poole, the patient actually had to pay just $164.99.
Emergency room fees and other costs related to hospital care have become fodder for a growing dialogue over what are the real costs of health care, v. what is actually billed. The New York Times revealed an $11,000 bill received by a patient for minor surgery to his hand that took no more then eleven minutes to complete.
READ MORE EMERGENCY ROOM CHARGES LEGAL NEWS
Poole, when describing the state of affairs over her elderly client's medical bill and what he actually owed, referenced the confusion when it came to emergency room fees and other hospital charges.
''There were three explanation of benefits from Blue Cross Blue Shield, each with an [sic] different amount due,'' she said, ranging from about $164 to $81,900. ''How's that for confusion?''
Patients would be well served to take a good, hard look at invoices and dispute their medical bill if it appears out of line with reality.