Just Because You Have Health Insurance Doesn't Mean Your Bill Won't Be A Million Dollars

Here’s a scary thought: What if you have health insurance and still get stuck with a million dollar hospital bill? That’s what happened to Jim Dawson after a staph infection spread throughout his body.

From the WSJ Health Blog:

Part of the problem is that insurance caps — the maximum amount of a patient’s medical bill insurers will pay — haven’t been keeping pace with rising costs. The story says the average cap is $1 million per person, the same as it was in the 1970s.

Dawson’s cap was $1.5 million but after a staph infection spread throughout his body, he was still stuck with a $1.2 million bill from California Pacific Medical Center. He and was wife were outraged to learn about the hospital’s marking up of items.

“For instance, CPMC charged Mr. Dawson $791 for stockings designed to improve blood circulation,” the story says. “The same pair can be purchased on the Internet for as little as $12.”

Even more perplexing was the fact the Dawsons were told it would cost $1,030 just to get an itemized copy of Jim Dawson’s bill. The medical center was nice enough to send a letter — free of charge — seeking donations to the hospital.

Of course once the Wall Street Journal called to inquire about the bill, Mr. Dawson suddenly qualified for assistance under the hospital’s charity and they wrote off his entire bill.

Even With Insurance, Hospital Stay Can Cost a Million [WSJ Health Blog]