Last month, I got into a knife fight with some fresh fruit. I suffered a good stab wound, but you shoulda seen the other guy.
Anyway, I ran screaming and dripping to the gym and had Mike drive me to the ER. The doctor cleaned the wound, sewed it up, and sent me on my way.
Then I got a bill for $819.
I have a low-premium, high-deductible health plan through HealthNet. I basically got the cheapest plan I could find without overtly rolling the dice. So my ER services were not covered.
However, the kind people at HealthNet called up the medical center where I got treated, and negotiated my bill down to $122 (thanks HealthNet!).
I never knew that medical services were negotiable. After talking to friends who are doctors and/or frequent customers, I learned that the number presented on medical, dental, and vision bills is only a manufacturer’s suggested retail price.
But $122 is substantially less than $819. I wouldn’t have shot such a lowball had I been treated in Mexico.
Anyway, to give people a better sense of just how much hospitals are ripping them off, I made a searchable database of what Medicare actually paid for different types of outpatient treatments. Use this as a point of reference the next time a medical services provider hands you an exorbitant bill.
Why should doctors be able to drive fancy BMWs and pay back their med school loans? Stick it to ‘em by refusing to pay a cent more than what Medicare would shell out for the same medical procedure.