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New Jersey Hospital Charges Man Nearly $9K to Bandage Cut Finger

Oldgamer

Diamond Member
Jan 15, 2013
3,280
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A New Jersey hospital charged a teacher nearly $9,000 to put a bandage on his middle finger, an NBC 4 New York I-Team investigation has found.
Last August, Baer Hanusz-Rajkowski, of Bayonne, accidentally cut his finger with the claw-end of a hammer. He says he waited a few days for it to heal but the cut didn’t seem to be closing so he went to the Bayonne Medical Center emergency room to ask whether he should get stitches.

The nurse practitioner determined no stitches were necessary, he says. There was no X-ray either.

Instead, Hanusz-Rajkowsk got hit with a $8,200 bill for the emergency room visit, the I-Team has learned. On top of that, Bayonne Medical Center charged $180 for a tetanus shot, $242 for sterile supplies, and $8 for some antibacterial ointment in addition to hundreds of dollars for the services of the nurse practitioner.

In total, the bill was nearly $9,000.

“I got a Band-Aid and a tetanus shot. How could it be $9,000. This is crazy,” Hanusz-Rajkowski said. “If I severed a limb, I’d carry it to the next emergency room in the next city before I go back to this place."

Dr. Mark Spektor, President and CEO of Bayonne Medical Center, blamed the high ER bill on Hanusz-Rajkowski’s insurance company -- United Healthcare.
Almost six years ago, a company called Carepoint Health bought Bayonne Medical Center and turned it into a for-profit business. After that, Carepoint did not renew its in-network pricing contract with United Healthcare, Spektor says. He says Hanusz-Rajkowski's bill was so high because United fails to offer fair reimbursement rates.

“These sticker price charges only apply to ... a minority of patients whose insurance companies have refused to negotiate fair contracted prices with us,” Spektor said.

But Mary McElrath-Jones, a spokeswoman for United Healthcare, suggested Carepoint is pursuing a predatory business model that avoids cutting price deals with insurers.

“United Healthcare is deeply concerned about hospitals establishing an out-of-network strategy to hike the rate they charge for emergency room services, often surprising patients. Our members are very frustrated at receiving these egregious hospital bills so we are working to curtail outrageous billing and to help provide affordable healthcare options for our members.”

New Jersey law requires insurers to pay for ER treatments, whether or not there is an in-network price deal.

The New Jersey Association of Health Plans, a trade association representing insurance companies, has argued Carepoint is effectively using a consumer protection law to price gouge emergency room patients. Ward Sanders, the association’s president is now calling for a price ceiling on emergency room procedures.

“There’s a statute in New Jersey that deals with emergency conditions like Superstorm Sandy. But something along those lines that would prevent price gouging in the context of emergency rooms,” Sanders said.

But Spektor said capping the price his emergency room can charge insurance companies would put the financial viability of the hospital in peril. When Carepoint bought the medical center, it was on the verge of bankruptcy. A 2007 economic report estimated keeping the institution open saved 1,000 jobs.

“Insurance companies in the state of New Jersey particularly have had record profits last year. Billions of dollars in profits while hospitals are struggling and closing. That is the real story,” Spektor said.

It’s not just ER visits that can be expensive for out-of-network patients at Bayonne Medical Center. Medicare data shows the hospital charges some of the highest prices in the nation for dozens of the most common in-patient procedures. Carepoint has also purchased hospitals in Hoboken and Jersey City -- turning them into for-profit ventures too.

Since turning Bayonne Medical Center into a for-profit venture, Spektor says the hospital has become profitable. He would not reveal the facility’s profit margin on the $8,200 emergency room visit.

Linda Schwimmer, vice president of the New Jersey Health Care Quality Institute, estimated the charge is more than ten times the true cost of treating a cut finger.

“I can tell you the right price is somewhere between the neighborhood of $400 and $1,000," Schwimmer said. "And I know that because I’ve called around and asked, but why doesn’t everybody know that?”
Schwimmer wants New Jersey to create a public database where average prices for medical procedures are available for reference.

“If there was a list when he walked in the door saying this is going to cost you $8,200, he would have been running down the street,” Schwimmer said, referring to the bill charged to Hanusz-Rajkowski.

United Healthcare has settled its portion of the bill, about $6,640. Hanusz-Rajkowski was responsible for the balance, but after questions from the I-Team, Spektor said the hospital has written off his portion of the debt.
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Apparently this hospital went to a "for profit" hospital and they said that they are trying to be sneaky and find ways to increase exorbitant prices by using the excuse that X, Y, Z is out of network. But as you will see in the video, the insurance expert said the system would collapse if every hospital tried this stunt and this isn't how it works.
 

OutHouse

Lifer
Jun 5, 2000
36,413
616
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Almost six years ago, a company called Carepoint Health bought Bayonne Medical Center and turned it into a for-profit business. After that, Carepoint did not renew its in-network pricing contract with United Healthcare
wtf... i fail to understand the logic of this statement.

so if that is the price for a tetanus shot and a band-aid for a insured out of network person, what is the price for a uninsured person?
 
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CPA

Elite Member
Nov 19, 2001
30,322
4
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Since turning Bayonne Medical Center into a for-profit venture, Spektor says the hospital has become profitable. He would not reveal the facility’s profit margin on the $8,200 emergency room visit.
The profit margin is about $8,100.00. that was easy.
 

JockoJohnson

Golden Member
May 20, 2009
1,411
53
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This is why we, the public, should know any costs before having any medical care done. Show us the pre-insurance cost and then let us know what the insurance would pay. If people actually thought about the costs upfront, we may choose to go elsewhere or not have the work done. I also agree with the article on a public database of average costs for medical service.
 

senseamp

Lifer
Feb 5, 2006
35,038
5,125
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This is the real scam in US health care, and the hammer has to be brought down on it, hard. Providers have been getting treated with kid gloves for way too long, but everyone who's been to a doctor knows how many BS charges they pull off on insurance companies and consumers who don't have insurance. Health care is a utility, it should be regulated as such.
 

Jimzz

Diamond Member
Oct 23, 2012
4,392
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This is what happens when a for profit company runs the health care and another for profit company pays for it and they both want their bigger cut.
 

OutHouse

Lifer
Jun 5, 2000
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United health care should audit them and fire the person who approved paying over 6K for a bandaid and shot.
 

realibrad

Lifer
Oct 18, 2013
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This is the problem with "health insurance". Because you pay for insurance even if you dont use it, you have the incentive to get your moneys worth. Couple that with the hospitals fear that you could sue them if you didnt do xyz test, and you get many overusing the "insurance" and driving up costs. Most people I know would rather go to a specialist because the cost difference is very little and the insurance covers the rest. They dont realize that the collective pays for the extra costs, and not the company.

This guy went to the hospital assuming that he would not have to pay much, because his insurance would pay for it. He got burned, because he did not know that his insurance company had not set up prices.
 

Pantoot

Golden Member
Jun 6, 2002
1,764
30
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Of course, this is a ridiculous, and there is no justification for even a $200 charge, but really, if you can wait days for treatment, why did you go to the emergency room?
 
Oct 25, 2006
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A cut that isn't healing at all over several days can be a sign of some big issues, especially if that cut was made with a not so sanitary claw end of a hammer.
 
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-slash-

Senior member
Jan 21, 2014
361
0
41
Make an appointment with your general practitioner. The cut wasnt closing, he needed an opinion on whether to get stitches or not. It was not oozing puss and smelling like gang green, this was not an emergency. Erroneous visits to the ER are stupid.

Healthcare is/was a commodity you bought. You need to be aware of your coverage or you're going to get screwed. This is no different than having liability insurance on a car and expecting the insurance company to fix body damage when you hit a tree being stupid. Ignorance is not an excuse.

Unfortunately the healthcare industry has been taking advantage of insurance companies for decades with exceptionally high costs for basic treatment.
 

senseamp

Lifer
Feb 5, 2006
35,038
5,125
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Why should someone be treated as a sucker and scammed by the hospital for going in?
Can you imagine if you go to a restaurant, and they ask you if you want fries with your burger, then you say "yes" and then later they say, "yeah, those fries were $1000, it's your fault for not finding out the price, pay up." Would you call them anything other than scammers and scumbags? But we are supposed to treat doctors and hospitals as holy when they pull the same scam?

Here is the picture of the Chief Scam Officer, hospital CEO Mark Spektor for public shaming:

So you know what his face looks like when he tells you $9K for a bandage is reasonable.
 
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OutHouse

Lifer
Jun 5, 2000
36,413
616
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Why should someone be treated as a sucker and scammed by the hospital for going in?
Can you imagine if you go to a restaurant, and they ask you if you want fries with your burger, then you say "yes" and then later they say, "yeah, those fries were $1000, it's your fault for not finding out the price, pay up." Would you call them anything other than scammers and scumbags? But we are supposed to treat doctors and hospitals as holy when they pull the same scam?

Here is the picture of the Chief Scam Officer, hospital CEO Mark Spektor for public shaming:

So you know what his face looks like when he tells you $9K for a bandage is reasonable.
:thumbsup:
 

senseamp

Lifer
Feb 5, 2006
35,038
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Apparently that picture was from his youth, when he still may have had a conscience, updated it to reflect the current smug face that would be telling you a bandage is worth $9K.
 

Strk

Lifer
Nov 23, 2003
10,198
4
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Make an appointment with your general practitioner. The cut wasnt closing, he needed an opinion on whether to get stitches or not. It was not oozing puss and smelling like gang green, this was not an emergency. Erroneous visits to the ER are stupid.

Healthcare is/was a commodity you bought. You need to be aware of your coverage or you're going to get screwed. This is no different than having liability insurance on a car and expecting the insurance company to fix body damage when you hit a tree being stupid. Ignorance is not an excuse.

Unfortunately the healthcare industry has been taking advantage of insurance companies for decades with exceptionally high costs for basic treatment.
Yeah, I was basically going to post this. Your GP can also give the tetanus shot.
 

senseamp

Lifer
Feb 5, 2006
35,038
5,125
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Yeah, I was basically going to post this. Your GP can also give the tetanus shot.
But why should you not be able to go to the hospital and get charged a reasonable amount for services rendered? Just because the hospital is having a fight with the insurance company, they should be allowed to rip people off?
Do we want people self diagnosing and delaying care to avoid being pawns in some financial games or should the government step in and clean up this mess, and regulate health care like the utility it is.
 

kage69

Lifer
Jul 17, 2003
19,060
12,058
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why did he go to an ER in the first place? it clearly wasn't an emergency.
That was my initial thought as well.

Back in May I had an accident, 6 of my fingers got crushed while trying to save a dog. Long story. Anyway, bruised bones, cuts, 2 dislocations, and the middle finger on my left hand was broken lengthwise. Made my entire hands swell up like ballons, not just the fingers, no way I could drive. My wife went nuts and hurried me off to the hospital, wanting to take me to the ER. I told her this wasn't a life or death situation, let's not be those people who clog ERs whenever they have a cold, then bitch about the subsequent wallet sodomy.

Went to Urgent Care. Was admitted immediately, got a Dr. within 20min. Discharged an hour and a half later after being cleaned up, x rayed and splinted. I declined pain meds. My portion of the bill came in the form of 2 different invoices, one from the Dr. and one from the Xray department. Total out of pocket expenses for that little accident was $380 IIRC.
 

Veliko

Diamond Member
Feb 16, 2011
3,597
127
106
Make an appointment with your general practitioner. The cut wasnt closing, he needed an opinion on whether to get stitches or not. It was not oozing puss and smelling like gang green, this was not an emergency. Erroneous visits to the ER are stupid.

Healthcare is/was a commodity you bought. You need to be aware of your coverage or you're going to get screwed. This is no different than having liability insurance on a car and expecting the insurance company to fix body damage when you hit a tree being stupid. Ignorance is not an excuse.
Getting medical treatment is nothing like getting a car fixed.
 

Veliko

Diamond Member
Feb 16, 2011
3,597
127
106
That was my initial thought as well.

Back in May I had an accident, 6 of my fingers got crushed while trying to save a dog. Long story. Anyway, bruised bones, cuts, 2 dislocations, and the middle finger on my left hand was broken lengthwise. Made my entire hands swell up like ballons, not just the fingers, no way I could drive. My wife went nuts and hurried me off to the hospital, wanting to take me to the ER. I told her this wasn't a life or death situation, let's not be those people who clog ERs whenever they have a cold, then bitch about the subsequent wallet sodomy.

Went to Urgent Care. Was admitted immediately, got a Dr. within 20min. Discharged an hour and a half later after being cleaned up, x rayed and splinted. I declined pain meds. My portion of the bill came in the form of 2 different invoices, one from the Dr. and one from the Xray department. Total out of pocket expenses for that little accident was $380 IIRC.
I'm not sure what your point is here, most people would consider a crushed hand to be an emergency.
 

Anubis

No Lifer
Aug 31, 2001
78,716
414
126
TBH I have absolutely no idea where the closest "urgent care" center is to me it may not even exist. Id wager like 99% of the population are the same so they go to the ER

the hospital is a mile away
 
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Feb 4, 2009
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Every time I read a story like this I think of a friend who cut his hand badly in England during a work trip.
He cut himself on a knife, called the front desk because he bleed on the carpet a bit and had some ruined hand towels. The woman who came to clean it insisted he go to the hospital. He was drove over to the hospital and the stitches, ER visit and filing fee cost a little more than $40. The whole process took about 2 hours and an intern did the work. His hand is fine to this day.
We are obviously doing something wrong in America, there is no way you could get a comparable service here for close to that cost. Single payer is the only way to go.
 

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