A New Jersey hospital reportedly charged a teacher nearly $9,000 to bandage a cut on his middle finger.
NBC 4 New York
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reports that Baer Hanusz-Rajkowski went to the Bayonne Medical Center emergency room to see if he needed stitches after accidentally cutting his finger with the claw-end of a hammer. The nurse practitioner determined no stitches were necessary, he said, but he ended up getting a $8,200 bill for the visit.
On top of that, Bayonne Medical Center charged $180 for a tetanus shot, $242 for sterile supplies, and $8 for antibacterial ointment, in addition to hundreds of dollars for the services of the nurse practitioner.
“I got a Band-Aid and a tetanus shot. How could it be $9,000? This is crazy,” Hanusz-Rajkowski said. “If I severed a limb, I’d carry it to the next emergency room in the next city before I go back to this place."
Dr. Mark Spektor, president and CEO of Bayonne Medical Center, blamed the high ER bill on Hanusz-Rajkowski’s insurance company —United Healthcare — claiming the insurer fails to offer fair reimbursement rates for patient care.
“These sticker price charges only apply to ... a minority of patients whose insurance companies have refused to negotiate fair contracted prices with us,” Spektor said.
But Mary McElrath-Jones, a spokeswoman for United Healthcare, suggested the hospital is engaging in a predatory business model and refuses to cut price deals with insurers.
“United Healthcare is deeply concerned about hospitals establishing an out-of-network strategy to hike the rate they charge for emergency room services, often surprising patients,” she said. “Our members are very frustrated at receiving these egregious hospital bills, so we are working to curtail outrageous billing and to help provide affordable healthcare options for our members.”
Linda Schwimmer, vice president of the New Jersey Health Care Quality Institute, estimated the charge to Hanusz-Rajkowski is more than 10 times the true cost of treating a cut finger.
“I can tell you the right price is somewhere between the neighborhood of $400 and $1,000," Schwimmer said. "And I know that because I’ve called around and asked, but why doesn’t everybody know that?”
Schwimmer wants New Jersey to create a public database where average prices for medical procedures are available for reference.
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