"I just want to get a fair shake on pricing when I’m paying my bill with my hard-earned money,” Harjeet adds.
“Hospital overcharging should be a crime. They can shaft the insurance companies all they want but not individuals.”
Emergency Room overcharging is Attorney Barry Kramer’s area of expertise. “Barry noticed that a discount of 40 percent had been taken off my Carolinas Medical Center bill,” says Harjeet. “How can people pay full price - I certainly couldn’t. We would be in serious trouble.”
Harjeet suffered a fall at the Charlotte airport. Despite telling the authorities that he didn’t have insurance and didn’t want to go to the hospital, he was told that it is the Charlotte airport policy. Harjeet was taken by ambulance to the emergency room and to rule out any brain damage, he had a CT Scan to the tune of $2,500. (The average cost of a brain scan is $1,200.) His ER bill totaled $9,077.10, and he spent just a few hours in the emergency room.
Attorney Kramer told Harjeet that, with this discount, he didn’t have a case against the hospital. In an e-mail that follows, Kramer provided Harjeet (at no charge) with a short explanation of what had occurred after receiving the hospital emergency room services.
“The total billing for your services was $9,077.10, and you were listed as a ‘Self-Pay’ patient on the bill. This $9,077.10 figure is at the hospital’s ‘Chargemaster’ rates, and this is the rate that I can easily attack.
“The Bill also shows a $3,630.84 credit, which the hospital lists as a ‘Self-Pay - Payments & Adjustments.’ I did the calculations and this adjustment is exactly 40 percent of the Chargemaster figure, which appears to be an upfront discount automatically applied for ‘Self-Pay’ patients. Thus, the hospital allowed you a 40 percent upfront discount, which was applied to your account because you were a self-pay patient without insurance. This leaves a net figure of $5,446.26, which you paid.
READ MORE EMERGENCY ROOM CHARGES LEGAL NEWS
“The bottom line, as best I can tell from the documents you sent me, is that you were given an uninsured discount of 40 percent from the [Carolinas Medical Center] full rates. While the remaining balance which you paid may still seem unfair and excessive, I don’t believe that an action against the hospital for overcharging would be successful... and I’m sorry I could not be of more help, but it would be a disservice to you to try to file a case which I don’t believe would be successful in the end.”
Harjeet is fortunate because many hospitals do not offer a 40 percent discount for uninsured patients. And he will be more careful to watch his step at airports - or anywhere.