It comes up in any number of ways. For example, our clients may need a surgery, and we will have to obtain an estimate for that procedure.
Or maybe we’ve resolved the case and it’s time to pay back a hospital, and there’s a dispute about what is a reasonable cost for the medical care its provided.
In many of these fights, it’s difficult to come up with a solid cost for care, especially for hospitals.
Yesterday’s New York Times had a blog post with an interesting story on this issue. The post addressed a study done by a student at Washington University in St. Louis. The student called around to more than 100 hospitals to ask for the price for a hip replacement for her “grandmother.”
Amazingly, many of the hospitals couldn’t even give her a quote. Hospitals simply aren’t set up to deal with customers who aren’t paying through health insurance. Of those who were able to provide an estimate, the quoted costs ranged from $11,100 to $125,798.
Now, some of that disparity is because the quotes involved different services. For example, some quotes only included the cost of the hospital, leaving out associated costs such as surgeons, anesthesiologists, post-surgical therapy, etc. But even that issue shows the problem with the lack of transparency in the world of medical care billing.
If you call and ask for a quote, you have no way of knowing whether it’s a complete quote or whether the amount provided is reasonable.
Unfortunately, I don’t have a solution. This is simply a problem that we’ll have to continue to deal with in our practices.