Yesterday I picked up my hospital bill and a human-readable itemized list of everything I paid for while at the hopsital the day I fell, broke three bones in my ankle, and had to have emergency surgery. Typically, the bills you receive list only specialized numerical hospital codes or combined totals that don’t give you any real idea of what it is that you have unwittingly purchased, but I needed this itemized list for both insurance purposes and general curiosity on my part. One thing I’ve noticed is that people don’t talk about their medical bills or share pricing, particularly in the U.S. where outrageous medical bills are generally agreed to be the worst of any well-developed country in the world. So, as both a way to vent frustration and as an interesting exercise, I thought I’d post my full itemized bill for the world to see. It’s embedded below (or you can click here, people whose mobile web browsers don’t support PDF embeds).
I am about the farthest thing from a medical professional that exists on the planet (despite my endless hours watching House M.D., Ambulance, and 24 Hours in A&E), but some of the interesting (though potentially mistaken) takeaways are:
- Apparently I had to buy the drill bits they used in my surgery for between $400-$1500 each
- A $380 ‘Anesthesia Supply Basket’
- 12 screws that they drilled into my bones that ranged from $148 a piece up to $887 (which I bought two of)
- $994.40 for 45 minutes in the recovery room after surgery (to be fair I did drink a miniature can of Sprite soda, so really it was a bargain)
- It would seem that the going rate for a shot of morphine is $13.61. Which I suppose if you compare to the prices of everything else is a complete steal
I don’t know how to feel about all of this. I’m partially angry about how absurd the pricing of basic healthcare in America is, and I’m frustrated by feeling like there was nothing that could possibly have been done to avoid it because accidents happen, but at the same time I’m oddly relieved that my hospital bill is as “low” as it is.
1 split-second fall on black ice saw me lose $26k instantly. It’s like, I could either just go out and buy my dream car that I’ve been wanting for years, or I could have a quick tumble and enjoy a couple months of pain and difficult movement. I clearly made the wrong decision.
Thankfully, I have pretty good insurance through my employer, so I don’t actually have to pay the full $26k on my own. They paid nearly $20k, so I’m only on the hook for $5805 out of my own pocket, and I can work out a payment plan with the hospital. But still, that’s a huge amount of money, and it will be hanging over my head for a while. I was wanting to pay off my truck this year, and do some renovations on my house, but this will delay all that for a while.
But, as I said, I’m thankful. For some people, this would be absolutely devestating for their lives. They wouldn’t be able to pay this back for ages, if ever. Plus, a lot of people would have lost money from being out of work - thankfully I have a good job and some sick/vacation time built up, so I won’t lose any of my normal income. At the end of the day, I’m unbelievably fortunate in the big picture - but man paying for healthcare in America sucks.