Saturday, July 21, 2012

The Price Of Getting Sick

In my late May hospital stay, I got bored as any recovering patient might, so I turned on the TV and geeked out on Storage Wars.

Can you believe I got a bill for this? $23.50 for watching TV?

I don't object to paying for what I use. I rather insist on it. But, I was in some state of delirium when I arrived and signed the documents. I don't remember any verbal or printed disclosure about any costs for watching TV.

I may have been bored, but I am cheap. Ame brought me a book and my laptop. Given clear notification, this cheapskate would have done without Storage Wars and used the diversions I had instead of the exceptionally overpriced one. The cable TV available to me at home via Comcast goes $100/month, or about 3 bucks a day. I watched on one day, so $23.50? That's BS.

Lucky me, this is the tip of the iceberg. The other bills are going to be rolling in. Can't wait.

Now I'm not going to start calling for socialized medicine just because I feel like I was taken advantage of on the TV viewing. For $23.50, the heaviest my objection will be is this blog post and an 'UP YOURS!' to Good Samaritan Hospital. Maybe a letter to the hospital. Caveat Emptor, as always. If there is a next time, you can bet the TV will not be switched on.


Jason Tracy said...

This may not sway you to universal health care, but it does seem to be a great example of how health care can't operate as a free market.
You are someone who is keenly aware of the concept of understanding the cost and making a decision if you see enough benefit for it.
Had this TV been in the waiting room at the auto shop or in the bar, you likely would have declined, as you said.
However, you were dealing with a health issue, so your normal behavior was impaired.
If one the customer doesn't have a clear way to walk away from a transaction, it isn't a free market. You may have had SOME way to avoid the TV bill, but it wasn't clear.

How on earth could we ever think that people are going to be proactive enough to refuse excessive tests and drugs if someone like you can't even avoid getting ripped off by a TV bill?

Mike Kole said...

It definitely makes me think long and hard. I was in no condition to make decisions when I was first admitted, and yet I was signing documents. Do that anywhere else in life, and someone is guilty of fraud.

Now I'm not going to pretend that there is a free market at work here. There are regulations upon regulations. In light of things, a regulation that requires disclosure, or perhaps gives the patient the option to walk away from a bill 'agreed to' under duress probably isn't a bad idea.

In the meantime, Good Samaritan Hospital sent me a letter asking for a donation. Well! They're going to get a letter back that explains how a $23.50 bill on TV viewing cost them any chance of a donation. That might have as much impact as anything else.