Saturday, January 15, 2005

A Limit to Tolerance?

Don Shropshire, friend, colleague, and retired CEO of Tucson Medical Center sends along the below paragraph from the January 3, 2005 issue of AzHHA Health-E-News, the daily news service of the Arizona Hospital and Healthcare Association.

Don’s finding it of interest must mean that the tolerance of even a battered old hospital administrator has its limits.

“[Arizona] Republic columnist Laurie Roberts writes a sequel to an earlier piece that criticized lack of sufficient scrutiny of hospital bills to insurance companies. An example was given of two “torso socks” (aka T-shirts) that cost $278 apiece, billed to a patient by Phoenix Children’s Hospital. Blue Cross did not dispute the bill. Examples at other hospitals include: a $28 toothbrush; a $61 IV needle; a $19.95 raised toilet seat billed at $96 to Medicare; a $57 paper hospital gown and a $265 gelatin sponge. When John Warnick’s son John broke his leg, the ambulance ride cost him $1,000, even though he simply rode in the ambulance in a seatbelt, with no medical care provided. A $40 sports physical mysteriously became $248 when a clinic discovered Paul Berardi’s son had insurance coverage. Berardi filed a complaint with the Arizona Medical Board, which called it “a miscommunication.” “When you look at it, inflation is less than 3 percent. Why are medical cosdts going up 15 to 18 percent?” Berardi asked. Officials say the cost of technology, lawsuits, uninsured patients and staffing a hospital around the clock lead to these huge markups. Despite that, hospitals around the state are adding beds and more staff. Alan Blumenreich, the father billed for the T-shirts, will pay his bill, but also says he will file a complaint with the Attorney General’s Office.”

Anyone wishing to read the entire article will find it at http://www.azcentral.com/arizonarepublic/local/articles/0101roberts01.html

I looked it up. Roberts concluded her article by saying “Something's fractured all right, and it's far worse than anything Matt Blumenreich did to his back.”

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