Tags: Aurora | Shooting | Hospital | Bills

Aurora Shooting Reveals Tragedy of Hospital Bills Being Marked Up 233 Percent

By    |   Wednesday, 01 Aug 2012 08:02 AM

Tragedy brings out the best in people, and many stories show how good people helped others during and after the horrific shooting that took place in a Colorado movie theater. After a stunningly successful response to save the injured and honor the victims, financial realities threatened to extend the damage.

Victims faced incredibly large hospital bills and many will require years of follow up care that will create a financial burden for life. In response, some hospitals agreed to waive charges for some of the victims, a welcome sign of compassion for those who face financial ruin through no fault of their own.

I want to emphasize that I believe it is entirely appropriate to waive the cost of care for these victims. But the Denver Post noted in their coverage that “For patients who are unable to pay, Denver Health said they discount the hospital bills by 70 percent.”

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This seems to be a standard policy for the hospital. No one explained why insured patients are billed 233 percent more than uninsured patients. This act of compassion has highlighted the tragedy of excessive charges billed to those with insurance.

Many legitimate questions can be raised after a mass shooting, and the cost of healthcare needs to be one of them. Obamacare does nothing to make billing uniform, and there will still be millions of uninsured after the law takes effect.

With more insured patients, perhaps Denver Health could increase the discount offered to those who remain uninsured. Or perhaps the hospital could simply charge the amount that is fair to all patients and stop overbilling insurers and patients who don’t know they should ask for a cash discount.

Hospitals and patients need to face economic realities and perhaps this tragedy could jump start that discussion.

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