This was a disappointing report on the Today show, of a woman who got a snake bite, but then faced the real shock: the $55,000 hospital bill.
Clearly, the most obvious answer is for the patient to be insured: not just to cover the treatment, but to have bargained down the cost. But in this case, the patient had let her insurance expire just days before. What the report doesn’t show is that such a charge is likely to be 3-4 times more than what any insurer would pay. And the report didn’t show how it doesn’t have to be this way.
We’ve seen stories of people with snake bites and the bills to prove it. Here in California, such stories prompted Health Access to sponsor and help pass a law: the Hospital Fair Pricing Act, so self-pay patients who face such astronomical bills have a shot at getting a price they can live with. More information on taking advantage of the consumer protections under the Fair Pricing Act is at our webite, www.hospitalbillhelp.org.
A recent Health Affairs article by Glenn Melnick and Katya Fonkych spotlighted the law, and found that it was successful in changing the behavior of hospital billing practices and reducing the bills of the uninsured. We are proud that California now provides these consumer protections–we hope that reporters who report on outrageous hospital bills also provide some context and point to solutions, like what we have done in California.