Las Vegas, NV (KTNV) - When you're seriously sick or injured, go to the E.R. Just be sure to consider all your options. It could cost more than you imagine. Contact 13 looks at the soaring cost of visiting the emergency room, so you don't waste your money.
Judy Burton was recently feeling some pain. So she rushed to the emergency room.
"She put a little hospital band on my wrist," says Judy Burton.
45 minutes later... "My pain subsided. And I said I'm not going to sit here," says Judy.
So she went home. But a couple of weeks later she was hit by a different kind of pain. A bill for more than $1,000.
"$1,059.06 for sitting in their chair in the waiting room, and never saw anybody," says Judy.
At first she didn't think much of it. She figured the hospital billed her for a full emergency room visit, not realizing she had left. But when she called, Judy says the hospital would only offer a payment plan.
"I said uh, I'm not paying it! I never saw a nurse or a doctor. No vitals were taken. I sat in your chair," says Judy.
So she started filing an official dispute. But she says the next call was even worse.
She said you will be turned over to collections. And I thought, Oh my gosh," says Judy.
A nationally known patient advocate, Pat Palmer with BillAdvocates.com says, surprising hospital bills are becoming more common.
"We're paying extreme costs that are not necessary," says Palmer via Skype.
According to the New York Times, if you have a high deductible health care plan, treatment for a cut or broken bone often starts with a $400 facility fee. Then add up to $1,000 for a doctor's fee. Plus another $400 for lab and x-ray fees.
If you feel you're overcharged, ask for a fully itemized bill. And just like Judy, be sure to dispute the charges. Be sure to tell them not to send it to collections until your dispute is resolved. And send them a list of the errors.
As for Judy, in the end the hospital agreed to lower her bill since she never saw a doctor or nurse.
We want to make it clear, if it's an emergency, get to the E.R. But if you think your doctor or urgent care is all you need, skip the hospital so you don't waste your money.