Unbundling Hospital Costs Resulting In Massive Surprise Bills

By Consumers for Quality Care, on July 14, 2021

Unbundling Hospital Costs Resulting In Massive Surprise Bills

According to NPR, Claire Lang-Ree of Colorado was experiencing severe pain in her lower abdomen. She called her mother, who took her to a nearby hospital in their family’s health insurance network.

She received a CT scan of her abdomen, a series of test, and morphine and anti-nausea medication through an IV. The hospital eventually determined Claire was experiencing an ovarian cyst, which are usually painful but harmless.

Then came the bill, which included two outrageous charges for “push fees,” costing the Lang-Ree’s $722.50 for the few seconds it took for a nurse to put the drugs in her IV.

“That was so ridiculous,” says Claire, who adds she had previously taken the anti-nausea drug they gave her; it’s available in tablet form for the price of a cup of coffee, no IV necessary. “It works really well. Why wasn’t that an option?”

Charges like these – akin to bag fees from airlines – are the result of “unbundling,” a practice in which hospitals are marking up their bills with itemized fees that can dramatically increase the cost of care.

CQC urges hospitals to stop predatory tactics that target consumers and send patient costs soaring.