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A bike accident, a $20,000 ER visit and an American scandal

WASHINGTON: After a bicycle coincidence ultimate year, an ambulance transported Nina Dang to the emergency room at a public hospital in San Francisco. A few months later, the invoice arrived: $20,243 greenbacks.

The news website Vox, which has been investigating high US clinical expenses for the previous year, learned of her case, and wrote about it. The media protection ignited a national frenzy that lasted weeks. Now, the hospital has in the end agreed to cut back the invoice to $200, Vox reported on Thursday.

The tale illustrates the complexity of the American well being device, and its tangled internet of private and non-private hospitals, native and federal regulations, insurance coverage that pays otherwise if a hospital is "in" or "out" of community, and no central authority that manages costs and protection ranges, regardless of the well being care reform passed right through Barack Obama's presidency.

In the United States, having health insurance does now not guarantee peace of thoughts.

Patients will have to continuously determine whether their insurance coverage will duvet certain procedures, or if they may be able to see certain medical doctors or be admitted to express hospitals in step with their protection. Coverage is incessantly incomplete, and patients are left guessing what amount they'll be asked to pay in any case.

In Dang's case, her insurance coverage most effective coated a fraction of the invoice from the emergency room, about $3,800 of the full $24,000.

That's for the reason that insurance coverage company did not have a protection contract with the hospital, which was once named Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital, after Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg made a $75 million donation.

In reality, the hospital was once regarded as "out-of-network" for all non-public insurers, a policy Vox described as "surprising," and which resulted in hugely higher expenses for many patients.

Vox, which has built a database from some 2,000 expenses that readers sent in, appearing exorbitant clinical expenses, also found that a baby's seek advice from to the ER at the same hospital resulted in an $18,000 invoice.

Elsewhere, a woman in Kentucky was once billed $12,000 after her insurance coverage company refused to pay for her ER seek advice from, saying her stomach pain did not benefit an emergency.

Such stories have begun to mobilize lawmakers, and some expenses have been proposed, and hearing dates set so that you could change current practices.

Zuckerberg Hospital, within the meantime, has now not introduced any change of policy, beyond adjusting expenses for certain patients, like Dang.

"It's great that things worked out for this patient! But, having journalists investigate medical bills is a pretty terrible way to run a health care system," tweeted Sarah Kliff, the Vox journalist assigned to the undertaking.

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