Column: I need your exorbitant medical bills

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By Sen. Joe Hune

As we have all experienced, medical costs are rising rapidly. I was struck by the TIME magazine exposé, published March 4, 2013, titled “Bitter Pill: Why Medical Bills are Killing Us,” by Steven Brill. The subject of the exposé was the cost of medical care. Interestingly enough, many of the fees that hospitals charge bear no relation to the actual underlying cost of the product or service that the hospital is providing.

Many times, bills are tripled for some items used. According to one hospital’s report, it spent $27.5 million for laboratory work during calendar year 2010, yet it charged $293.2 million for that same work. That is roughly eleven times its original cost!

According to Brill’s article, hospitals are charging patients with bills that bear little to no relation to the actual cost of the health care. Whether it is charging $77 for boxes of gauze pads or marking up one tablet of Acetaminophen 10,000 percent, hospitals are not making these prices known to patients before providing care.

There is a price list for products and care that a hospital keeps called the “chargemaster.” This “chargemaster” is currently not available for your review, leaving the true price of medicine ambiguous to patients.

I need your help. If you have any outrageous hospital bills for services and/or products that do not match a reasonable market price, we want to see them! We are looking to gather as many bills from the 22nd District as we can as we pursue legislation that would, among other things, require hospitals to post their “chargemaster” lists online for patients to view. We are open to all suggestions of how to bring down medical costs, and we welcome your input.

If you are interested, you can mail copies of your bills to Senator Joe Hune Attn: Sam Champagne, P.O. Box 30036, Lansing, MI 48909-7536 or scan and email them to senjhune@senate.michigan.gov. We ask that you redact your sensitive information and we will keep all other information private!  Of course, if you have any questions please feel free to call our office at 855-JOE-HUNE.

Thank you, and we look forward to your incoming correspondence!

 

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