Monday, June 8, 2009

How do you like THEM apples?

I have received a comment on my last night's post. Moshe complained about $75 emergency room co-pay. Here's my response to his comment.

About three years ago DD's elbow was dislocated. This had happened to her several times before and overall is very common among toddlers. Though not dangerous, it is rather painful. I remember DD sitting on the couch and whimpering while I called every single pediatrician I or my friends could think of at 8.30 pm. No one was in the office or even at home, so we had to go to the emergency room.

It was about 45 minutes from our arrival until we were seen by a triage nurse. She took DD's temperature, brief medical history and asked questions about the incident. She quickly realized that we were right and the only thing DD needed was setting her elbow. She tried to see if the doctor was available so that we wouldn't have to wait in line to get this simple procedure done. Alas he wasn't, so we had to wait another 45 minutes to be seen by the doc.

When we were called in, the doctor took about 5 seconds to set the elbow, then came back 5 minutes later to make sure that DD could raise her arm, told us not to pick her up by her hands (we never did, but he didn't buy it) and were on our way home. All this entertainment for a bargain price of a $50 co-pay.

The shock came in a few weeks later when we received the itemized bill from the hospital. Even though out co-pay was still only (!) $50, our insurance paid much, much more. How much? $1,335. For what? The nurse spent 5 min on our case, that includes the time she tried to locate the doctor. Pediatrician spent literally a minute and a half with us, 30 seconds to set DD's elbow and 1 min giving us so-called advice. No medical equipment of any sort was used (other than thermometer and some gizmo that DD had to reach to show that she could use her hand). No medicine was administered. What exactly cost $1,385?

It took me a long time to figure out, but then it hit me: the hour and a half chair rental in the waiting room!

Oh, and since then our pediatrician showed us how to do this procedure ourselves, which we successfully had done several times after this incident, all in the privacy of our home and completely free.


  1. good thing you have insurance, scary if you didnt.

  2. We waited in the room for over an hour because they forgot we were there.

    Friend went to hospital with appendicitis. They kept screwing around for like a day before they decided to operate. How did they decide? A "professional" came in and poked him in the stomach. He didn't ask for this "professional" but was billed I think $200 since his insurance doesn't cover "professionals". No, he's not gonna pay.

  3. MiM, yep, it's a scary thought. Overall, I think this topic deserve yet another follow up post.


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