Bayonne Medical Center charges patient $17k for 5 stitches

Bayonne (N.J.) Medical Center charged a patient $17,000 to treat a two-inch wide cut on his index finger, an amount that was billed to the patient's insurer Minnetonka, Minn.-based UnitedHealthcare, according to NBC New York.

Bayonne, N.J.- based CarePoint Health, the company that owns Bayonne Medical Center, is out-of-network for UnitedHealthcare insurance carriers.

CarePoint spokesman Jarrod Bernstein defended higher out-of-network charges as a survival strategy necessary to keep struggling urban hospitals afloat. Mr. Bernstein told I-Team at NBC N.Y. that many payers, UnitedHealthcare included, have not offered the health system "a workable rate of reimbursement that takes into account our obligation to provide care for the underinsured and uninsured."

UnitedHealthcare said CarePoint care costs are 10 to 12 times higher than area hospitals participating in United's network, according to the report.

"Out-of-network hospitals should be charging rates that are consistent with other facilities in the community, rather than using emergencies as an opportunity to bill patients excessive amounts," UnitedHealthcare spokeswoman Mary McElrath-Jones told the I-Team at NBC N.Y.

UnitedHealthcare has paid most of the $17,000 charge. The patient has yet to pay his portion of $1,170.

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