Wednesday, September 5, 2012

My Life Is Not Worth $25,000 (Unless It's Other People's Money).

How much money would you pay if somebody possessed a magic potion that could save your life, or at least prevent crippling pain and injury? One million dollars? Ten million dollars? For one scorpion bite victim, she has decided she won't even pay $25,000.

Marcie Edwards, an Arizona resident, was stung by a scorpion at home. She went to her local hospital, Chandler Regional Medical Center, for treatment. The doctor told her they had an anti-venom that can treat the sting. She claims the physician never told her how much the medicine would cost her. That is probably believable since how many of us ever tell our patients how much their treatments cost? As it turned out, the medication cost $40,000 each for two doses. Later, Ms. Edwards received a bill from the hospital for $83,000. Her insurance company paid $57,000. Now the hospital is asking her to pay the balance of $25,000. She has so far refused.

So the hospital saved this woman's life but she feels that they have received enough compensation and shouldn't pay anything out of her own pockets. Is it unfair for the facility to ask for that much money from a victim of a potentially deadly incident? Well, how much money does it cost to maintain a state of the art medical facility in the middle of the desert, staffed with top notch physicians and nurses, fully stocked with the latest medicines and medical equipment? Ms. Edwards was lucky she got stung in Arizona where modern medicine is just a car hop away. What would have happened if the same thing occurred to her in the Sahara desert? How much money do you think she would have given to be taken to the closest hospital? But now that she is treated and well, she decides that she will not pay anything to her saviors. Is it any wonder hospitals all over are losing money hand over fist? Twenty-five thousand dollars here, twenty-five thousand dollars there, pretty soon it adds up to real money, and real debt.


  1. Outlaw the Criminals......

  2. Both sides are to blame here, I think.

    According to the article in the local newspaper, her insurance (Humana) doesn't cover the hospital she went to. So this was pretty dumb...I know what hospitals I can and can't go to and expect insurance coverage. She was at home, and this was the closest hospital, but this was not a life-threatening emergency and she could have made a rational decision about seeking care. So that's a strike against her.


    The hospital buys the drug for $3,780 from a distributor. It then bills $39,652 per dose. And you need two doses. For those of you keeping score at home, that's a 1,052% markup. Even by the insane pricing standards of health care billing, that's outrageous.

    Also, Chandler Regional Medical Center is in a fairly well-off suburb of Phoenix, a metropolitan area of 4.2 million people. Describing it as "a state of the art medical facility in the middle of the desert" makes it sound like a lone outpost. There are at least five hospitals (including two level-I trauma centers) within a 20 minute drive from that ED.

  3. An update: per a news report today, the hospital is backing down and says they are working with the patient to reduce the charge for the drug.