Friday, May 30, 2014

The Cost of the Emergency Room

When I was in the emergency room at New York Presbyterian on April 15th -16th, I saw a few doctors, one of which was a surgeon named Dr. Kumar (not his real name). This doctor was the boss of all those pesky surgical residents who were so anxious to operate on my bowel.  I saw him just before he discharged me. On April 17th, there was a bill in my mailbox from Dr. Kumar for $550.  I threw it away thinking that this would be submitted to my insurance since he saw me in the emergency room.  Aetna, my medical insurance provider paid the following amounts for my overnight stay in the emergency room hallway on April 15th:

New York Presbyterian Hospital:  $13,095
Dr. Yong Ho Auh, radiologist:       $181
Dr. Elisa Aponte, ER physician:    $165

Total payments:                            $13,441

For whatever reason, Dr. Kumar's bill was sent to me separately.  I received another bill today in the mail stating that my account is past due and to avoid further collection activities, to remit payment in full.  Not to be a b*tch, but if a doctor sees a patient in the emergency room, shouldn’t his payment be part of that overall bill?  If not, shouldn’t he have asked me for my insurance information - like any other doctor would before he saw me?  Why should my credit be at risk for this obnoxious doctor behavior?  The only way for me to take care of this is to call their toll free billing number and sit on hold to get it straightened out.  Grrrr….like I have time to fight with the doctor over the bill while I am working 50+ hours a week and battling cancer! 

I probably should not have been, but I was shocked by the cost of this emergency room visit.  Considering that I did not even have a room, IV pole, nurse call button, privacy curtain, TV, pillow or bathroom, I find this kind of pricey.  On top of that wonderful experience, I now have to deal with Dr. Kumar’s billing issues.