Demystifying – and Decreasing? – the Emergency Room Bill


During a snowstorm last winter, my 6-year-old son fell and cut his chin – not outside on the ice, but inside on the tile bathroom floor. My husband walked our son, Charlie, through the knee-high snow to the local emergency room.

Charlie’s gash was small, less than half an inch long, but deep. The hospital called in a plastic surgeon, who put 14 tiny stitches into his chin.

Charlie called the incident “the worst day of my life” – mostly because he had to spend hours in a hospital instead of throwing snowballs. Weeks later, when the bills arrived, we had our own bad day.

The total charges for his minor spill came to $5,398. The largest single charge was a shocking $4,950 from the plastic surgeon.

Emergency room bills are notoriously high and perplexing; patients often are left feeling like captives who have few alternatives. It is impossible to know how much the services will cost when you walk in the door. The hospital bill, which arrives weeks later, may include seemingly inflated charges for things like Tylenol or an M.R.I. …
Read all of this New York Times story.

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