Here is Julia’s situation...
“I’d had great difficulty in swallowing for a number of days and by Sunday night, January 22 of this year the feeling became so intense that I phoned my on-call doctor, asking for advice,” Julia says. “He told me that I should go to the emergency room right away.
“I had two tests in the ER: an X-ray and a CT scan. They did not ask what I thought about this, and they never, at any point, explained the financial implications - which probably I should have known. I am a foreigner by birth, so I’m not familiar with a lot of US laws and regulations, but I guess I should have known.
"The X-ray and the scan showed nothing. I was in the ER for about three hours and then I had to walk home, since my ride had left. Of course this is not the hospital's problem but no one asked how I would get home or even showed any interest, which, considering they had decided two hours before that I needed a CT scan, seems strange. It was now 1 am, and raining. Three weeks later, a bill arrived for over $1,300.
"I phoned the hospital, and, after four attempts, got through to an administrator who explained that the CT scan was the expensive bit. She assured me that the doctors in the ER had "no idea" what any procedures cost. I said that a) I found this hard to believe, and b) if they didn’t know, they should have. Anyway, she agreed to knock off the co-pay, reducing the amount to about $1,100.
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"Well, I'm sure that attorneys dealing with emergency room overcharges hear much worse than this every day! But it was a horrible shock, and a serious waste of money for someone on a fairly low salary, as I am. If attorneys have any way of pushing forward my idea about a physician's duty to explain financial implications, I would be very happy to hear it.”