Why everyone is talking about a $629 Band-Aid

Emily Rappleye (Twitter | Google+) - Print  | 

The story of a pair of nervous parents who got schooled in emergency department facility fees when they received a $629 medical bill for a Band-Aid is making waves online.

Their story, reported by Vox, involves bringing their 1-year-old daughter to the Danbury (Conn.) Hospital ED for a small cut on her pinky. There, a physician ran water over the cut and put a Band-Aid on it, which fell off as soon as the family got to the car, according to the report. By then, the bleeding had stopped, according to Vox, and the parents had peace of mind that their daughter was OK.

This peace of mind didn't last long, though. The girl's father, Malcolm Bird, told Vox he was stunned when he got the bill for $629. Rather, he owed $440.30 after his health insurer negotiated, but that was still a steep bill for a Band-Aid.

According to Vox, Mr. Bird promptly wrote the hospital a letter, expecting them to lower the price. Mr. Bird received a response from John Murphy, CEO of Danbury-based Western Connecticut Health Network, the hospital's parent company. In the letter, Mr. Murphy explained the Band-Aid cost $7 and the rest of the cost was the ED facility fee, according to the report. He didn't offer to reduce the cost of the medical bill.

When Vox reached out to the hospital network to get an explanation of how facility fees are determined, they never got one. The system CFO Steven Rosenberg did, however, remove all of the Bird's charges, according to the report.

Facility fees can be particularly exasperating in cases like that of the Bird family, who barely use ED services. Vox points out that while hospitals may need to charge these fees, they should consider tiered pricing, charging based on the severity of the visit, or simply price transparency, providing the cover charge to patients before they step into the ED, so they can make an informed decision about the cost.

Read the full story here.

 

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