Costly ER Bills Raise Questions, ConcernsMcClatchy/The Sacramento Bee reports on a the experience of Scott Hawkins, a 23-year old student who received five minutes of ER care at the UC Davis Medical Center before being pronounced dead. McClatchy reports: "Few question the extent to which doctors tried to save the student's life on Oct. 21, but the amount billed for his emergency care has provoked outrage a further example, critics said, of what is wrong in a health care system that is roundly maligned for its escalating costs." The bill for those five minutes of care talllied $29,186.50, "including a single-ticket item for $18,900.50, described on the itemized bill as 'Trauma Rescue Service.'"
"What's more, the Hawkins case may be a dramatic and brutal example of the wide disparities in the sticker price for medical care provided to those with insurance and those without it. With millions of Americans unemployed and increasingly uninsured, emergency rooms have become part of the focus of the high cost of medicine in this country. ... Hawkins was mistakenly classified by the hospital as medically indigent. Had the hospital realized that the student was insured, the bill would have been sent to his insurer, Kaiser Permanente, which would undoubtedly have paid thousands of dollars less" (Calvin, 11/8). This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.