Universal Healthcare, please?

I went to the ER in 2006. I received a bill shortly thereafter for some extraordinary amount of money. I called the hospital, gave them my insurance information, and didn’t hear from them again.

Late last month, however, I received a bill from a creditor for $1200 from the ER visit. I called the company I was insured through in 2006. They confirmed that they’d paid a portion of the bill in early 2007 and that I did indeed owe a remainder of $1200.

I called the hospital. They said, yes, I did owe $1200. But when I asked why I hadn’t received any bills and why I’d been contacted by a creditor instead of them, they got very confused.

A week and 8 phone calls later, we’d determined that I’d been sent bills starting in 2008. Since they were sent to an old address, I’d never received them. Many more phone calls later, I’d convinced them that there was no way I could have known to change my address with the hospital if they’d waited over a year to start sending me bills.

The bad news is that I have to pay $1200, which I would rather spend on new glasses and fixing a cavity and maybe even doing something extravagant like eating in a restaurant.  To give those of you who are not poor college students an idea of how much money this is to me: it takes me almost 2 months to make $1200.

The good news is they fixed my credit report and are letting me get on some sort of payment plan. It sucks, but at least I’ll be able to make rent AND buy groceries for the next few months.

I looked at the bill in detail hoping there was some sort of mistake and asked some questions about the charges.  One in particular, EMERG RM $730, caught my eye.  I’d already been billed for every poke and prod and medication and supply and by every doctor who’d even glanced at me – so what did this vague charge cover?  The answer made me very very annoyed.

The ER has 5 levels of admissions.  Level 1 is patient has a cold or has scraped a knee.  Level 5 is patient is dead, but could possibly be revived.  They charge you a fee based on this level to (and I quote) “walk in the door.”  This fee increases with the level.  Since I was level 4, they charged me $730 to walk through the door.  I think this is particularly unfair since not only was I certainly not walking, I don’t even remember the door.

At least I no longer feel the least bit guilty about vomiting all over one of the doctors!

To any ridiculously rich people out there (or people with an extra $5), there’s a paypal donate button on the sidebar (Under “The College Fund)…