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Outrageous Emergency Room Overcharges for Uninsured

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Ocala, FLWhen John asked the Munroe Regional Medical Center billing department why his emergency room overcharges and other hospital charges were 10 times more than the going rate, he was told it is because he is uninsured!
“They have a contract based on rates with the insurance company and I don’t have a contract with them so they can bill me whatever they want,” says John.

John has already paid the doctors, including the anesthesiologist, and he is more than willing to pay hospital fees - if they are fair and within reason. John had a routine appendectomy last May and the hospital billed him $60,000, not including physician fees! When he got the bill in the mail, John says his wife cried and he was pretty upset.

“I’ve been getting monthly bills from the hospital for several months now and so far they haven’t tagged on any interest but I figure that will be next, when they hand it over to a collection agency,” says John.

“As of last night, I feel somewhat relieved because attorney Barry Kramer phoned me.” (Kramer has said these overcharges are a “national scandal.”) “We reviewed the case and he has tasked me with getting a copy of the admission form that I signed and agreed to - Barry said they never give you a copy. What I have learned is that Munroe has charged me 10 times the average rate for the operating room and 10 times the going rate for the anesthetic. I find it interesting that I can go online and see dozens of hospitals that post their rates but Munroe Regional Medical Center does not. Now I know why they don’t.”

Last May, John, age 64, went to a local health clinic with a pain in his right side. They suspected appendicitis so he was referred to another clinic for an MRI - which determined their suspicion. He was then told to check into the ER at Munroe Regional Medical Center. At that time he had no fever and the pain had gone away. He had another MRI anyway and the same diagnosis.

“They removed my appendix and I was in the hospital for exactly 46 hours, including the first eight hours in ER waiting for surgery,” says John. “It was a routine surgery through a scope, no incision was needed. I didn’t get my first bill until four months later. The invoice said I owed $60,000 that I can pay by MasterCard or VISA and ‘failure to pay will force us to take legal action.’ They knew I had no insurance because I had to give them $419 before I was admitted.”

How on earth can Munroe justify $60,000? John eventually got an itemized statement. He was charged almost $40,000 for use of the operating room and $4,000 for the anesthetic drug. John has done some research since then. “I have prices from four national hospital systems and the average cost is $400 for the appendectomy drug and the OR fee is $42 per minute, not $395 a minute for a total of $35,888.52 for 91 minutes that I was charged.”

John tried to get an explanation for these hospital overcharges from the billing department. “The young lady said that she couldn’t explain this amount but she would ask someone in their Atlanta billing department and get back to me at the beginning of the year. I don’t think I am going to hear from her. I asked how they could justify the OR charges, how many staff were at my routine surgery. They won’t tell me. I tried to talk to the hospital supervisor and he is always busy. They did tell me that my bill won’t be discounted any further.”

Attorney Kramer will be working on that discount. Meanwhile, John would like to hear from anyone who had an appendectomy at Munroe prior to and post his surgery to see if they were charged the same rate. Let us know.


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