Hospital Bills Woman For Waiting 19 Hours Without Seeing Dr

Amber Joy Milbrodt waited for 19 hours in a Dallas emergency room to get her broken leg fixed without seeing a doctor before she finally left. Two weeks later, she got a bill for $162. The hospital says it was for when a nurse checked her vital signs. “She’s not paying for waiting…She’s paying for the assessment she received.” said Rick Rhine, the hospital’s vice president in charge of billing. “It should have been more like them paying me for having to sit in the emergency room for 19 hours,” Amber told The Dallas Morning News. Amber says she’s not going to pay the bill.

Dallas hospital bills woman who waited 19 hours and never saw a doctor [Chron] (Thanks to Chester!) (Photo: xxxlps)


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  1. campredeye says:

    If my leg was broken and I was not being taken care of in the first hour at most, people would sure start to remember my leg was broken.

    Unless, of course, the hospital was inundated with an outbreak of some virus that turned everyone into zombies and didn’t have time.

  2. Alex7575 says:

    “She’s not paying for waiting…She’s paying for the assessment she received.” said Rick Rhine, the hospital’s vice president in charge of billing.

    Even if what he said was true, I’ve seen more emotions emanating from maggots, than this excuse for a human. He sees nothing wrong with someone waiting 19hrs in an emergency room.

    $160 for a couple of minutes evaluation by a nurse? Where does all the money go? Why are hospitals always in financial trouble?

    • JollyJumjuck says:

      @Alex7575: I have to agree with Ms. Milbrodt on this one. Waiting times in hospitals are a necessary evil, but at some point the line is crossed from inconvenience to outright disregard for another person’s time. Forcing someone to wait 19 hours to just get vitals checked, and then charging an obscene amount of money indicates an enormous lack of organization among the hospital staff, and a callous lack of respect for another human being. I imagine only a portion of the $160 was for the nurse’s time: the bulk of the cost was probably what the hospital charged her as rent for the “privilege” of sitting in the waiting room.

      • LuzioFantazmic says:

        It wasn’t 19 hours to get their vitals checked.

        They were triaged and then had to wait 19 hours. The bill was for Triage. It is the same at every hospital whether you wait for 1 minute or 1 day. You are billed for Triage.

    • nikkimarie says:

      @Alex7575: I’m pretty sure hospitals are always in financial trouble because of people not paying their hospital bills…

      • samurailynn says:

        @nikkimarie918: If the bills were more reasonable, more people would pay them.

      • blackmage439 says:

        @nikkimarie918: I’m pretty positive it’s more from mismanagement, the few GROSSLY over-paid surgeons, and the incompetent med school dropouts who bring about all the malpractice lawsuits.

      • Valhawk says:

        @nikkimarie918: You are correct. On average only around 27% of patients pay their bills. So the reason costs are high is because you are paying for all the people who don’t pay.

        Hospitals can’t refuse to treat anyone, so they bill the people they can to cover for the majority they can’t

      • Anonymous says:

        A much larger problem is getting insurance companies to pay what they owe. Patients who cash pay are actually pretty good at paying.


        A former hospital biller and a current clinic owner.


    • Indecent says:


      “$160 for a couple of minutes evaluation by a nurse? Where does all the money go”

      I agree. I pay less than that (without insurance) for a 20 minute doctors checkup.

    • FLEB says:

      @Alex7575: Perhaps I just expect too much from people, but I see a systemic disregard in the medical industry to the fact that they are a customer service trade. What other business could get away with the terrible service hours and wait times, general disregard for service attitude, then kick their customers out the door with an obscenely inflated, previously undisclosed bill?

  3. sir_pantsalot says:

    If the government ever takes over health care we will look back on this and reminisce about the good old days when waiting for 19 hours only cost $162.

    • DeleteThisAccount says:

      @sir_pantsalot: Yeah and your justification for making such asinine statements is what?

      • sir_pantsalot says:

        @AngrySicilian: I can view the real world. Name one thing the government does that is cost effective. What part of the government do you enjoy dealing with?

        • DeleteThisAccount says:

          @sir_pantsalot: I like driving on the roads that take me to work that the government paves and maintains for me. That’s one thing. It would not be cost effective for everyone to get out there and lay down a little piece of asphalt in a community effort.

          • sir_pantsalot says:

            @AngrySicilian: I have seen road construction projects go on for 10 plus years and they seem to never end. That would be fabulous when it is your health of life that they have do desire to take care of just as long as they get to keep billing the tax payers.

            Driving on the roads is not dealing with a government agency. Which government agency do you enjoy dealing with?

            • DeleteThisAccount says:

              @sir_pantsalot: The Census Bureau has always been very helpful, so has the state board of elections. I work in a politics related field, so those are the government agencies I deal with most regularly. The Cook County Assessors office (Chicago) has also never let me down…. I could go on and on…

            • Alex7575 says:

              @sir_pantsalot: How many roads do you see out there that are finished and operational vs the ones that are in construction?

              If one is to believe what you’re saying this country would still be using steam engines.

              Do your research, before you ride your party line.

              • sir_pantsalot says:

                @Alex7575: I didn’t come up with that analogy. You can’t compare roads with health care of human beings.

                We can thank the private sector for giving us better technologies than the steam engine not the government. If we were left to rely only on the government the steam engine would be a very expensive technology.

                I think we could have a big improvement in our health care system if we could limit petty law suits by lawyers and if hospitals were non-profit like they used to be. Maybe even have cases reviewed by a panel of doctors to see if there was wrong doing before a Dr can be sued.

                • Alex7575 says:

                  @sir_pantsalot: I get it, it’s ok for you to use road vs healthcare analogies, but it’s not ok when I use them?

                  “We can thank the private sector for giving us better technologies than the steam engine not the government.” This would be the military actually, which is a government agency.

                  And as far as I know the most costly lawsuits are of cases of gross negligence by the hospital/doctor. So, the big improvement you’re talking about, would actually be if doctors were more careful (yeah, THAT’S IT). No need for panels or anything. Just don’t screw up, every employer I’ve worked for expected me not to screw up.

                  • Valhawk says:

                    @Alex7575: The problem isn’t the 1 valid case its the 1000 stupid cases that still cost money to have dismissed.

                    Example, a women sues a hospital because they refuse to provide prenatal care because she has no indication of being pregnant. Then she claims she’s been pregnant for 7 years and the only reason the doctors didn’t find anything was that the baby insider her uterus is “wrapped in plastic”.

                    This suit cost her 10 dollars to file. It took 6+ months and several thousand dollars to get dismissed.

                    So the problem isn’t the very small number of legitimate suits. Its the disproportionally large number of totally bogus ones.

                    • Alex7575 says:

                      @Valhawk: How much that one valid case is going to cost the hospital? And how much do those dismissals cost?

                      1,000 stupid cases will never come close to 1 valid case, where millions are in stake.

                  • Whoopsi says:


                    “No need for panels or anything. Just don’t screw up, every employer I’ve worked for expected me not to screw up.”

                    Telling a doctor to never make a mistake is about as reasonable as telling a baseball player never to miss. I was with you until you made that asinine comment.

                    • Alex7575 says:

                      @Whoopsi: Everyone makes a mistake, I’m a computer programmer and I make many mistakes. But I’ve never made a mistake that would corrupt a customer’s database, or kill a patient for that matter, if I ever did, I’d get fired, and my company sued.

                      I was talking about “red slippable” offenses, which in a doctor’s case could lead to loss of one’s life.

                      Sorry that you felt my comment was asinine, but I stand by it.

                • AvisCinna says:

                  @sir_pantsalot: We can thank the private sector for giving us better technologies than the steam engine not the government.

                  You obviously have no idea what you are talking about. NASA, a government funded program has given us better technology and advanced us as a civilization more than all private sectors combined.

                • frodo_35 says:

                  to bad most people can’t afford to take advantage of that great technology even with insurance.

                • rellog says:

                  @sir_pantsalot: Actually you can thank the GOVERNMENT for many, if not most, of the inventions and technological advances in our world.
                  Just because the private companies take those inventions and turn a profit, doesn’t mean they were the driving force behind them.

            • rellog says:

              @sir_pantsalot: Gee, and here in Milwaukee they just finished a massive redo of the Marquette interchange both early AND under budget. The notion that the health care system is ANYTHING but completely dysfunctional is ludicrous.

              As consumers, at the very LEAST we should have some massive regulations put onto health care facilities, drug manufacturers and insurance companies…

          • Toof_75_75 says:

            @AngrySicilian: Maybe if you lived in PA and drove on PA roads you’d feel differently ;-)

            Perhaps we should ask Hawaii how well government run health care works…their system just bankrupted and fell apart after 7 months of it being instituted.

            Where in the Constitution does anyone find a section that talks about how the government should provide for or dictate over the health system of the nation? I must have missed that…

            • Alex7575 says:

              @Toof_75_75: Hawaii’s problem was that it needed Federal help (which is what is being proposed).

              “Life, liberty and pursuit of happiness”, not in the Constitution, but in our Declaration of Independence.

              This is why the US was founded so Americans could live (HEALTHY) lives, be free, and to be happy.

              So yeah, this nation was founded so Americans could live happy lives, show me one sick American that’s living a happy life.

              • junkmail says:

                @Alex7575: Wrong. You contradicted yourself and didn’t even see it. We are NOT guaranteed happiness, but rather the pursuit thereof. There’s a HUGE difference.

              • slopirate says:


                ‘”Life, liberty and pursuit of happiness”, not in the Constitution, but in our Declaration of Independence.

                This is why the US was founded so Americans could live (HEALTHY) lives, be free, and to be happy.’

                OK, I have to step in here. Did you actually just try to prove a point by inserting your own words into the Declaration of Independence? I think this is the very definition of an invalid argument.

                • Alex7575 says:

                  @slopirate: “@junkmail: We could play on words all day, then how am I going to pursue happiness if I can’t even get my health taken care of? My argument is weak and it’s about a sentence that is open to anyone’s interpretation.”

                  So if you insert your own words into the Declaration of Indepence (which I quoted) that makes for an invalid argument? How so?

        • Alex7575 says:

          @sir_pantsalot: My parents are in their 60’s and they live in Korea where they have state sponsored insurance (Universal coverage for those who hate the term). Last time I spoke to my mother, she said she was paying about $100/month for coverage, and she went to doctors all day everyday (almost literally), paying $5 copay for each visit. My mother suffers from hypothyroidism and she has to see specialists and she’s paying next to nothing to see them.

          I may be wrong about some details, but please provide more conclusive evidence than “I can view the real world”.

        • parkavery says:

          @sir_pantsalot: Name one insurance company you enjoy dealing with.

          Yes, the American government has an enormous capacity to screw things up, but that doesn’t mean the baby needs to go out with the bath water. Government-run and government-controlled healthcare can work; it works fantastically in other countries.

          When I moved to the UK, I hadn’t even started paying taxes yet when I fell down the stairs to our flat and broke my foot. I was taken to hospital, waited 20 minutes to see a doctor, and received brilliant follow-up care over the next 3 months. It was so refreshing that the first thing they said to me when I was rolled into the ER wasn’t, “Can I see your insurance card?” but rather “What happened and where does it hurt?”

          Government-run healthcare may or may not work in the U.S., but private healthcare certainly isn’t working either.

          • sir_pantsalot says:

            @parkavery: I think this goes back to lawyers. In the UK if you bring a lawsuit against someone and you don’t win you pay for their legal and lawyer fees. In the states any piss ant lawyer can bring a lawsuit against any doctor and if they lose then no big deal.

            @Alex7575: This makes the practice insurance outrageous.

        • KStrike155 says:

          @sir_pantsalot: How about the United States Postal Service, one of the most efficient and reliable government-run entities in the world?

          • KStrike155 says:

            @KStrike155: I would also like to add-on to my comment by reminding that it is about 200x more expensive to text message someone (through a private company) than it is to have a message hand-delivered to them by the USPS (the evil government).


        • Landru says:

          @sir_pantsalot: I like the National Park Service. And the NIH and the CDD. I used to like FEMA until the Bush Admin got ahold of it.

        • OtisAegisthus says:

          @sir_pantsalot: @sir_pantsalot: I like that there hasn’t been a major plane crash during the past eight years (FAA). I like free weather alerts and forecasts (NOAA). I like the Internet (DARPA). I could go on. What I don’t like is a so-called healthcare system that is more interested in making profits than keeping people healthy. In case you hadn’t noticed, people out there in that “real world” you claim to view, the folks in Canada, Australia and Europe, wouldn’t trade their “socialist” government run healthcare system for ours in a million years. They think we are nuts to pay more than they do and get less care, or any at all for the 46 million Americans who can’t afford healthcare. Nearly 50 cents of every dollar spent on healthcare in the US doesn’t even go to doctors or hospitals, it goes to insurance companies and other ancillary corporations… and you talk about the government not being cost effective? This subject is a no brainer for most of the world, how did America get stuck with so many brainless people?

    • stacye says:

      @sir_pantsalot: If the government aids in health care (I don’t believe in taking it over, but I think they have a responsibility to the people to make it more affordable – but that’s a different debate all together), then Parkland could share the load with other hospitals in the area.

      Parkland does not turn people away when they don’t have health insurance, and because of that they bear the burden of the poor and uninsured.

      If someone is visiting Parkland, chances are the government is already footing the bill.

    • kc2idf says:

      @sir_pantsalot: Let’s look at this another way: What is your proposed solution?

    • BarclayHapiloons says:


      Hey *your* government might be crap at running things – but only because people who don’t believe in the power of government are in charge. It’s a bit of a self-fulfilling prophecy, there. Appointing incompetents to head things up isn’t just a useful policy for rewarding lackeys, it also helps to drive the party line.

      In my socialist bubble up here, I have been to the emergency room for a trivial thing and got treated within an hour. My grandfather had a heart attack and was treated within minutes and had bypass surgery *the next day*. Cost to me and my family: about a hundred bucks, and that was to get cable TV in his room.

      I would think that the recent Wall Street collapse would’ve shaken your faith in the “invisible hand” of free-marketism, but it’s good to see you’re keeping the faith.

    • Skybolt says:

      @sir_pantsalot: This is just ignorant. Government-run health care is better than privatized health care, period. Every comparable country with a national system has better outcomes than we do, for less money. The VA health system gives the best care in the country, more efficient and safer than anything else. Profit-driven health care gets you two things: One, it prevents people from getting primary and preventive care. Two, it leads to overtreatment once someone is really bad off.

      There is no rational reason to oppose national universal health coverage in the U.S. unless you are the CEO of a for-profit insurance company, or are suicidal, or are a member of some sort of death cult.

      • sir_pantsalot says:

        @Skybolt: Above I said that the for profit hospitals are a bad thing. The health and lives of people are not the kind of thing that should be handled by a for profit corporation.

      • BigBoat says:

        @Skybolt: I agree with everything you said. I’d also point out that american indians in this country have universal health care, and that’s the best health care I’ve seen.

      • SinisterMatt says:


        “There is no rational reason to oppose national universal health coverage in the U.S.”

        What if you don’t want higher taxes for something that has been proven to be inefficient and drowning in red tape? That’s in the private sector. I can’t imagine how bad it would be if we put government bureaucracy on it.

        That’s a pretty rational reason if you ask me.


      • Tux the Penguin says:

        @Skybolt: Lets take a look up at Canada, which has roughly 10% of the population here in the United States. Would you say that is going well? How about over in the UK? France?

        The problem we have now is not due to government or privatized health-care: we have this sick hybrid of a system that tries to do everything.

        First problem: why the hell is it tied to where I work? If this is such a great idea, why don’t we do the same thing with Life, Auto, and Homeowner’s Insurance? I find it funny as health insurance costs have increased over the last dozen or so years, costs for those types have gone down…

        Second problem: why can I not pick a plan that covers what I need? When I was shopping for my employees plan a few years ago, one of them offer that they covered “hair plugs” and “hair restoration surgeries.” What the hell? We have some “insurance” that covers cosmetic surgeries and procedures. Why?

        Couple these “private” plans (which aren’t really so much so) with the “government” plans as Medicare, etc, and we have this nice cluster… that makes things messy.

        • Valhawk says:

          @Tux the Penguin: Health “Insurance” is the biggest misnomer ever.

          Trying to compare heath insurance to auto or homeowners insurance is pointless. The reason why is that if auto insurance worked like health insurance every time your car broke down or you needed your oil changed you would pay a small deductible and then the insurance company would pay for the rest.

          Some of the problems of the current system are caused by the current government health care plan. Medicare encourages people to go to the ED for everything because its free for them. What people fail to do when they design these programs is look at the incentive structure they create.

          If you had a choice between going to a doctor and having to pay going to the Emergency Room for free the answer is obvious. You can’t beat free.

        • TechnoDestructo says:

          @Tux the Penguin:

          First problem: Because you as an individual do not have the clout to ensure that you as an individual can get insurance, if you are anything other than young and healthy.

          Second problem: Because people will pay for it, either because they want to or through their employers who will pay for it. (That’s where the “no choice” thing comes in…and that’s how insurers love it)

          Oh, and my aunt and her girlfriend are both in healthcare (RN and speech therapy), and both have taken on a lot of administrative duties. Both agree that when it comes to bureaucracy, they’d rather deal with the government than with insurance companies. According to them, it’s just much less headache.

      • Craysh says:

        If you honestly think the VA health system is anything but horrible you’ve never been involved with it.
        People in Canada, a country that has this much touted government run health-care system, come to the U.S. because they know the doctors there are superior.
        In a government run health care system, doctor salaries are capped, which leads to fewer people becoming doctors because it’s less likely you’ll be able to pay off your student loans (which are substantial for 8 years of medical school and 4 years of internship.)
        Also, if health becomes non-profit, there’s not incentive to come up with new and inventive procedures and drugs. Yes it would be nice if people did that kind of thing because they wanted to advance the betterment of mankind, but we know how that turned out in the USSR.

        • Alex7575 says:

          @Craysh: “if health becomes non-profit, there’s not incentive to come up with new and inventive procedures and drugs”

          NASA is non profit, and yet they pump out more knowledge than the world is able to consume.

          Your argument is the strongest argument against a Privatized health system. By your argument, if the drug industry ever found a cheap cure to cancer, that would be close to free, you think they would smile and welcome that cure?

          USSR? That was a Communist country, in a Communist regime. So every leftist idea has to be jumbled up with Communism? Then it’s fair to think that all right wing ideals are nothing but Facism.

      • AldisCabango says:

        We have government run healthcare. Its called Medicare and Medicaid, and its poorly run and its like social security it will be going broke in the not too distant future.

        Ask people in England what they think of their healthcare. Ask someone in england who has been in a waiting list for more than a year for major back surgery and see how they like universal healthcare.

        Ask someone in Canada who is in a 6 month waiting list to see a psychriatrists how good their universal coverage is. Ask the people in Canada who can afford to come to the US for their surgery on why they do that. As screwed up as healthcare in the US is its still better than other countries.

    • nataku8_e30 says:

      @sir_pantsalot: Well, I have limited experience dealing with public agencies, but so far I’d have to say my experiences have been much more positive than when dealing with private companies. I have dealt with the tax appraisal district for my house and found that they responded to my emailed questions with thoughtful answers that contained useful information. I have dealt with the Texas DOT, and they have never once lost my paperwork and have always sent me my vehicles titles within a few weeks of the initial registration. The Texas DPS has also been very timely with getting me my license when I moved here, and correctly processing my voter registration. They did forget to transfer my motorcycle license, but found the mistake during processing and corrected it (I had to make one additional trip, which was kind of a pain in the ass).

      Compare that to all of the experience I’ve had dealing with private companies. I currently have AT&T – they have constant screwed up my billing (sent a bill to collections weeks after it was paid, admitted their mistake but I still had to spend hours on the phone coordinating things between them and the collection agency), my insurance agent who never picks up the phone and can’t actually seem to ever figure out how to process a change to my policy, my health insurance company that has such a ridiculous in network / out of network / co-pay / deductible system that I can’t figure out who I’m supposed to go to or what I’m supposed to pay, or any of the private CSRs who promise a call back or an email response and 100% OF THE TIME DO NOT DELIVER!!!!! I have had MUCH better experience dealing with public agencies, even in the state of Texas where they are grossly under-funded due to lack of state income tax. If you look at actual numbers, you will see that public, governmental agencies have much smaller overhead than private companies.

      • cordeliapotter says:

        @nataku83: Yeah, even when DC’s Dept. of Works tried to screw me with a false fine, I was able to go through channels and get the fine revoked. Compared with private health insurance, it was a breeze.

        However, BC/BS-IL, Chickering, and Xpress Scripts totally screwed me about 6 years ago, and I’m still carrying debt of about 10 grand because arbitration doesn’t work and there are no other options.

    • nataku8_e30 says:

      @sir_pantsalot: Ah, almost forgot! How about the IRS, who is able to process my tax return and provide the correct refund directly to my checking account all within about a week, while doing the same for hundreds of millions of other Americans at the same time. Imagine a private company trying to do that! You’d spend hundreds of hours waiting in ques on the phone, you’d never actually manage to get the correct amount back, and they’d probably have 5 times the overhead cost! Also, in regard to your claim about roads always being under construction, guess what? Cities generally contract out to private construction companies for jobs like that!

    • johnnya2 says:

      @sir_pantsalot: Well I can say for sure that I have never enjoyed dealing with ANYBODY in a hospital emergency room. It would no matter to me if the state ran it, or the most friendly company of all time did. Its a hospital and most people aren’t there for something that isn’t gonna be painful. I have been to hospitals in Canada which has single payer health care, and have never waited 19 hours, Maybe the reason the wait is 129 hours is because it is private and the hospital can make decisions as to what the most profitable patient will be. The broken leg just is not a great revenue enhancer.

    • postnocomments says:

      @sir_pantsalot: Privatized does not mean automatically better. The way U.S. airlines, Detroit, Wall Street and other companies are run, you’d realize the government lost its grip on clueless bureaucrats a while ago.
      Healthcare in the U.S. is almost down to third-world levels and the only thing it ranks #1 is in cost. At this point, nothing anyone says can scare me from wanting to communize it.

    • MoreFunThanToast says:

      @sir_pantsalot: hmmm but under the universal health care plan, at least we wouldn’t have to pay the atrocious bill. And I have families who live in countries with universal health coverage and going to the doctors there is by far more convenient than trying to go to the emergency room here.

    • katiat325 says:

      @sir_pantsalot: I don’t think the gov’t should be taking over the health care system, but I do think that it needs to slap the health insurance companies upside the head. It’s soo expensive to buy coverage on your own, and it sucks that w/o coverage basic checkups and, in my case, basic female reproductive care is extremeley overpriced. W/o coverage I paid $105 for one month of birth control pills (which some private companies can refuse to cover due to beliefs). Also, it seems unfair that when a pregnant woman is looking for health insurance to have pre-natal care is denied by most insureres because of her “pre-existing condition”.

      On the other hand, I do think that undocumented people should be turned away from our hospitals since they are the ones who bail out on their bills, and the rest of the tax payers are left to cover it.

      And for people that talk of other countries’ gov’t run health care, you also should consider that those countries aren’t as fat as ours, so they deal with fewer problems (however small that scale may be).

      The private health care system needs to be bitchslapped and start working for the people, not for profit.

      • Kimaroo - 100% Pure Natural Kitteh says:

        @katiat325: I’m not sure when you paid that much, but I can tell you it’s gotten MUCH better than that.. Thanks to Walmart (How oftin do you see that on this site?) I only pay 9 dollars a month for my BC pills. I have no insurance, and even though I have money to pay I can’t get health insurance because of my “preexisting conditions”. But I can pay my local OBGYN once a year for a check up and I can totally afford 9 a month for pills.

        You can say all the bad things you want about walmart, but they have done great things for paying for meds without insurance.

    • Jetgirly says:

      @sir_pantsalot: @sir_pantsalot: I live in Canada. My gross salary is $50,562 or something (more than $50K, less than $51K). I pay approximately $9500 a year in taxes (federal and provincial). Is that obscene? I’ve always had really good experience with health care here- for example, I fell and fractured my wrist last summer and got into a walk-in clinic right away (cost- $0), got iced and wrapped up before I’d even sat down in the “waiting” room where I didn’t even wait (cost for bandages to take home – $0), walked a few blocks to the x-ray clinic and got x-rayed right away (cost – $0) and then got a soft splint for my wrist (cost – $0). The cost of the splint came out of my student health plan; today it would be covered by my employer-sponsored health plan (which is not deducted from my salary). My employer covered my extended health which includes random stuff like massages, nutrition counselling, orthotics, naturopathy, homeopathy, acupuncture, out-of-country travel health, etc. I’m not sure how those extras would work if I didn’t have employer-sponsored health care, but I suspect that if I really needed something I would get it.

      I am a first-year worker, having just finished my second university degree (after my first degree I took time off and worked in Europe). I graduated with $13,500 in student loans, after six years. Last week I got a letter from the government saying they would waive $3150 of my student loans due to “acdemic merit”. Tuition, annually, was in the $5500 range- definitely doable if you work while you study. The idea of spending tens of thousands of dollars on tuition alone is foreign to me. I think my $9500 in taxes is well-spent!

    • pauljunk says:

      You watch too much Fox News.

    • LiaPython says:

      @sir_pantsalot: I’m a Canadian. Our government runs our health care system and it’s a WAY more effective system than in the states. The wait times are reasonable (15 mins – 3 hours, usually, depending on the hospital) and then it’s free. Not just the assessment, or the supplies, or the labour. All of it is free. We are a nation that takes care of it’s people, not just the ones who can pay for astronomical private health insurance. I hope your $162 bill is ripped up because paying out of pocket for someone to check your vital signs is ridiculous. – M

    • Comms says:

      @sir_pantsalot: “If the government ever takes over health care we will look back on this and reminisce about the good old days when waiting for 19 hours only cost $162.”

      Poasting from a country that has universal healthcare and lolling at your wait times.

  4. rattis says:

    I’d suggest seeing a lawyer about it. I fought with a hospital over 2 years, while the out come wasn’t the greatest, I would have been better consulting a lawyer before it went to court.

  5. DeleteThisAccount says:

    People are so quick to scream bloody murder at insurance companies. I think Doctors and their support staff are just as bad, if not worse, than greedy insurance companies. Sure the school is expensive and they need to repay it, but once they pay off school their rates never go down to a reasonable rate.

    • johnfrombrooklyn says:

      If you have or had student loans, I’m sure you voluntarily took a paycut once those loans are paid off.@AngrySicilian:

      • DeleteThisAccount says:

        @johnfrombrooklyn: I paid off my loans and make a decent salary, I’m not looking to fortune off the suffering of others.

      • Alex7575 says:

        @johnfrombrooklyn: Doctors are not the only ones that take student loans. Doctors complain at how expensive their loans are, and never once think about the amount of money they make.

        • Etoiles says:

          @Alex7575: Doctors complain at how expensive their loans are, and never once think about the amount of money they make.

          When I lived in Harlem my roommate was a pediatrician. (“Lived in Harlem” and “roommate” may be hints here as to income level.) She paid about $2100 a month in student loan repayments. I MADE about $2100 a month, after taxes. So sure, her income was WAY up there, but her pocket money : loan payment ratio was about the same as mine.

          • Burning pakalolo not even noticing the weather says:

            A little off topic but as someone that was born and raised in harlem but cant afford to live there anymore, they priced people out of that area. Manhattan is only for the rich now (or people that can cram 3 other bodies into a 2 bedroom apt)

          • Alex7575 says:

            @EtoilePB: Now I ask you, what’s her situation now?

            • Etoiles says:

              @Alex7575: She still has the $2100 / month for the next five years at least. Last I saw her, though, she was moving in with her boyfriend and contemplating babies and marriage. I moved to VA. ;)

            • MyrtlePatroclus says:

              @Alex7575: As a current medical student, I argue that the high salaries of doctors are justified for a couple of reasons. First, becoming a doctor takes a tremendous amount of time and effort. Many of my college friends went into engineering and finance and are already making great salaries, while I am still a few years off from making anything. Even when I do begin to earn money as a resident/intern, my salary will be relatively low (~40k) for about five years, especially considering the loan repayments I’ll bear. Second, every step of my decades-long education has been grueling to arrive where I have. The competition for medical school is unbelievable; you are pitted against the best and brightest from around the world in terms of medical school admissions (where a class of 80 is often chosen from an applicant pool of ~8,000). In order to be competitive, I have been essentially a slave to the educational system for my entire living memory. Furthermore, almost all the doctors (and doctors-to-be) that I have met have the best of intentions. They are good people who earnestly want to make a tangible improvement in the lives of the patients they (will) treat. I see no problem when someone with a 1-in-50,000 level of talent who has invested decades of time and money into education to pursue their passion winds up making $500,000/year. Yeah, the healthcare system is messed up, but being in medical school myself (and knowing a large number of doctors personally) I don’t find widespread fault in the profession. In my opinion, the problem arises in the financial underpinnings of the insurance companies/for-profit hospital system.

              • Alex7575 says:

                @MyrtlePatroclus: I have had terrible experiences with doctors my entire life, and have extreme prejudice against doctors as a result. Which I’m aware that this is unfair and short minded of my part.
                I’m also aware that many doctors are “forced” into abiding to hospital policies. But it’s hard to keep a straight face when visiting my friend’s $2 million dollar house and hear him complain about how insurance is “killing” his practice.

                Then take it with the insurance companies, don’t bilk your patients for it.

              • Alex7575 says:

                @MyrtlePatroclus: I meant to apologize to you for any offense I may have spouted your way.

    • Pylon83 says:

      Yeah, that doesn’t make any sense at all. They charge a lot because school was expensive and they put a lot of work into getting to where they are. Just because their loans are paid off doesn’t mean their services are worth any less.

      • DeleteThisAccount says:

        @Pylon83: I agree that its not a common thought. Their services aren’t worth any less. I argue that they are over-charging. Just because you’ll pay 85 thousand dollars to receive an implanted heart defibrillator doesn’t mean that they should charge that much. Putting people first sometimes means you have to set aside greed.

        • Alex7575 says:

          @AngrySicilian: I have several friends who are either doctors or dentists. I usually join them to poker games (which I don’t buy in because the buy in is usually in the $500 mark) and if you hear them talk, it’s pitiful, they all bilk their insurance companies, and they all agree that it’s ok to do so because Practice Insurance (I don’t know what they really call it) is always so exorbitant and unfair to them (the poor kids).

          AngrySicilian has a point, I’m tired of doctors crying how “hard life is” while making more money than double your average graduate.

        • DahCheet says:

          @AngrySicilian: The big problem for doctor’s isn’t necessarily their student loans. Yes, they get out of school with a quarter of million dollars in debt but their biggest fees are for malpractice. It’s starting to get out of control in some states.

          • WIgopher says:


            This is 100% spot on. How do I know? My father’s a surgeon, and my brother is going through MedSchool. Not to mention that every time medicare/medicaid patients come in the doctor’s don’t see a dime of that money. Also consider that most doctors work 60+ hours a week, including weekends, on-call time, and have to rotate vacations. I’m sure most people here only work 40 hours at their job like most people. Doctor’s are far over-worked, and never get enough credit for what they do, or what they have to put up with.

    • GrandizerGo says:

      @AngrySicilian: No way will you see people do that…
      People have a tendency to live to their means…
      When I made 20K a year, I lived and did everything on that 20K a year…
      When I made 40K a year, I didn’t start banking 20K… I lived at a 40K per year rate…

      I think it is the same with most people until you get to the point where you are at work more than you can be away to spend the money you make…
      Especially if you have a 2 income family…

      Of course people who live off of the interest their money makes in the bank are the goals that I aspire to…

    • Valhawk says:

      @AngrySicilian: The reason doctor are expensive is not only the loans, the 4 extra years of school, the barely paid internship known as residency, the sometimes insanely long hours, the complexity of their work, their 6 digit malpractice insurance premiums, and the fact that they have to essentially act as free accountants for medicare/aid.

      Oh wait thats why.

      • DeleteThisAccount says:

        @Valhawk: Oh my bad, I guess the person who simply wasn’t intelligent enough to go through medical school and ended up working a dead end job should just die when they get sick.

        John McCain got tortured in Vietnam, that doesn’t mean he deserves to be a millionaire. There’s no guaranteed reward for toil in this life. If you don’t believe me, ask anyone who works in the food service industry.

    • Corporate-Shill says:



      You realize a high level specialist went to 4 years of undergrad plus 4 years of med school and then 5 to 7 years of internships, residency and fellowships….. so by the age of 30-35 the specialist can finally enter the “workforce” with the goal of paying off his/her loans and provide for his/her family and future all within the next 15-20 years?

      Compare the high investment and short earning career of the medical specialist verus the average person.

      The average person will have paidoff their loans by the age of 30 and will have 30-40 years to provide for his/her family and future.

      And you begrudge the medical specialist a few extra $?

      • Alex7575 says:

        @Corporate-Shill: what is the salary of the average person, and what is the final salary for the high level specialist?

        These are the salaries for neurosurgeons.

        * New York, NY: $425,000/-
        * Houston, TX: $375,000/-
        * Los Angeles, CA: $410,000/-
        * Miami, FL: $360,000/-
        * Seattle, WA: $390,000/-

        The cheapest neurosurgeon makes more than 4 times what I make.

        “And you begrudge the medical specialist a few extra $?”
        You’re kidding right?

        • redkamel says:

          @Alex7575: cool, except dont forget they didnt actually have a job until they were 34-35, and essentially gave up their 20s and their social life. Not to mention they worked 100 hour weeks, basically, the whole time. Not to mention what they actually do. Which is operate on a brain. And work 6-7 days a week, and some nights too.

  6. vastrightwing says:

    I can relate: my wife and were charged for a physical because the Dr’s. office had no insurance code for a Dr. one on one chat. Yes, rather than tell us we had to pay to talk to the Dr., they billed our insurance company for a non existant physical because they didn’t have the proper code! We refuse to pay anything for the physiscal we never had.

    • Real Cheese Flavor says:

      @vastrightwing: Your doctor’s office is jerking you (or rather your insurance company) around. There are several different CPT codes for office visits.

    • katiat325 says:

      @vastrightwing: at least you got something, my dentist billed my insurance for $145…funny thing is, I lost my school insurance 2 months before he billed them…and funnier still, I haven’t been to my dentist for those services at all!

    • Anonymous says:

      I am a clinical nurse auditor and believe me your dr’s office has CPT books with the proper code…the coder or assistant doing the coding, prob did not know what she was doing…did u get it resolved? Also let the Dr’s office know that you intend to report them for fraud…this is fraud..and you should get some me. You can report them to your state medical board….

  7. bria says:

    An assessment worth $162?

    I always thought an assessment was something like this: “Is she breathing? Yes. Is she bleeding? Nope.

    No room for her!”

  8. Pylon83 says:

    She received a service (the evaluation), why isn’t she obligated to pay for it? She knew that when she went into the hospital, uninsured, that she would have to pay for the services she received. Just because she decided to leave before the service was finished doesn’t relieve her of her obligation to pay for what she got. It’s like going to a restaurant, ordering your drink, then deciding that they wait is too long for the entree and leaving without paying for your drink. Yeah, it would be nice if the restaurant were to comp the drink, but they certainly aren’t obligated to do so. What if they comp’d everyone’s drinks when the wait was long? Not so good for the bottom line.

    • sir_pantsalot says:

      @Pylon83: This is more like the restaurant charging you for asking how many people are in your party.

    • Syrenia says:

      @Pylon83: This is more like she went to the restaurant, spoke with the seating host, spent 19 hours waiting in the lobby, and then got a bill for the time she spent talking to the host. She didn’t even make it to a table for water.

      Parkland should post a sign that says “Triage fee, $160” on the door.

      • samurailynn says:

        @Syrenia: I was going to say it’s a little like the hostess seating you at your table and bringing you glasses of water. Then, after waiting an inordinate amount of time, you decide to leave because the waitress hasn’t even made it to your table yet. I have actually had this happen at restaurants, and there is no way a restaurant would charge you for the glasses of water that they give to everyone who comes in.

    • Skybolt says:

      @Pylon83: This is a hospital we’re talking about, not a restaurant. A hospital’s responsibility is to provide health care, not to focus on their precious “bottom line.” A hospital has a moral responsibility to patients and to the community. If these hospital executives can’t understand that charging $162 for two minutes with a nurse out of a nineteen hour wait with an injury is unethical, then they probably do not understand what a hospital is for or what its obligations are.

      • Pylon83 says:

        Hospitals will cease to exist if there is no money to be made. The government can only subsidize so much of the costs of running a hospital, and with a large number of patients who don’t/can’t/won’t pay, they have to make up for it somewhere. On top of that, you have sky-high malpractice premiums and expensive medications and equipment. You cannot expect the hospital to just give away it’s services for free.

      • ohnoes says:

        @Skybolt: Without keeping the “bottom line” in mind, hospitals shut down when they have walk-ins. It’s happening all over the country – people come into the emergency room, hospitals treat them, and then never see the money. D.C. General shut down a few years ago for this very reason. Insurance companies also don’t consistently pay out, so rates are raised all across the board.

        Getting charged $162 to check vitals is not fantastic, but as the medical industry starts using nurses to replace doctors, get ready for expenses to rise and the level of expertise to go down.

        • jimv2000 says:

          It’s the hospitals’ fault for charging insane prices that people can’t afford. If the entire visit was ~$150, I don’t think they’d be having so much trouble collecting. I took my wife last year, and it was $1300 to get a gash on her hand stitched up. Absolutely insane…we were only there for about an hour (small town hospital) and only saw the doctor for about 10 minutes.

          • Kishi says:

            @jimv2000: It’s stories like this that made me glad I fought as hard as I did to make sure that the insurance company paid when I got hurt last year at work. The store I was at didn’t even file the paperwork at first, so I started getting bills for several hundred dollars for what was really getting an X-Ray and an ace bandage, and told I should take ibuprofen.

            As a sidenote, it is pretty hilarious to hear the despair in an insurance agents voice when you tell them that you were injured in an accident because the company had you working in unsafe conditions with no manager on duty.

    • katiat325 says:

      @Pylon83: in San Francisco General (actual story): emergency HALLWAY wait was 1 hour, emergency ROOM wait was 2 hours, ~8 stiches done by a NURSE to a cut on the hand, and you’re out. Bill arrives 2 months later: $1890!!!

      Stiches seem pretty basic, right? The materials they use are pretty cheap to get, the actual time they took was maybe half an hour to 45min, and that’s it. So are we to pay the one nurse that stiched up the hand for less than an hour of service nearly $2k?

      • cadieg says:

        @katiat325: lol. i can guarantee that nurse WISHES she saw more than about $30 bucks of that $1800. somewhere, a doc may have glanced at the hand and HE gets the big bucks. damn.

  9. stacye says:

    Parkland has great doctors, but not enough to handle their triage.

    If you think the triage in M*A*S*H looks packed on TV, you should see Parkland’s…. You literally have to wait in a line, to wait in a line, just to see a doctor.

    Also, I read some of the comments on that article. Some stated something to the effect of, “if you think this is bad, just wait until we have socialised medicine.” Here’s a newsflash for people who don’t live in the Dallas area: Parkland is the place where the uninsured go so they CAN get health care.

    If you have health insurance, you wouldn’t be visiting Parkland. You would be visiting RHD, Plano Presbyterian, or Trinity Medical Center.

    I feel bad for this woman, but the fact is that Parkland needs more funding to get the doctors to handle their triage. And since most of their clients are the uninsured, they depend heavily on the state in order to stay out of the red.

    • Necoras says:

      @stacye: Parkland doesn’t need more funding, it needs to be able to turn away, without fear of legal or financial retribution, people who show up at the ER to get their 4 kids checked out for their yearly physical, and then leave with no intention of paying. Parkland is a dumping ground for people who don’t want to pay for medical care. I’ve gone to a Care Now and always been seen within 15-20 minutes of showing up. Now it wasn’t for a broken bone, but because I paid for my service (I have insurance, but with a very high deductible), it was prompt and helpful.

      • stacye says:

        @Necoras: Actually, it does need more money. Their is a bond package coming up in this election which will give Parkland enough money to build a clinic near the DART rail station, and near the hospital (on land they already own), where they can handle non-emergency care.

      • Valhawk says:

        @Necoras: Here here!

    • Canino says:

      @stacye: Yep, and there are 2 reasons Parkland is like that:

      1. Illegal aliens who can’t go anywhere else
      2. Poor going there for any and every little thing no matter how trivial because it’s free and there’s air conditioning and a TV and they have nothing else to do.

      • stacye says:

        @Canino: Point 1) That’s a valid point, and could snowball into another debate, and I’ll keep my points on topic. They do manual labor jobs here, and are prone to more accidents than someone sitting at a desk.

        2) Are you kidding me? You think people actually go to cram packed emergency room so they can watch TV for free, and get be cooled at the same time – just to get to the doc and say “Sup? Just came for the free entertainment.” ?!? If that were the case then why don’t you see them visiting the entertainment section of Best Buy or Conn’s.

        I think they would rather be sitting out in the Texas heat playing Kick the Can than sitting in Parkland’s emergency room.

        • katiat325 says:

          @stacye: On your second point, YES they do show up for the air conditioning and TV! I’ve seen it in SF General ER lobby, they just sit there. And why not Best Buy? Because Best Buy is a private company that can kick people out that they feel should not be there, and they WILL call the police on you.

          • stacye says:

            @katiat325: Well, I can’t speak for SF General ER Lobby, but I can speak for Parkland since I’ve been there several times.. and that’s the hospital this article is talking about.

    • jimv2000 says:

      People need to stop using the ER as their main care provided. People get a sore throat or a sprained ankle and they go to the ER. Maybe they’ve never heard of urgent care facilities (different from an ER) or even a regular doctor’s office.

      • stacye says:

        @jimv2000: I agree. But I don’t think the majority of patients who go to the ER are there because they have a sore throat.

        I recently had to take my mother-in-law to the ER b/c of a sprained ankle. I took her there because the Primary Care and Urgent Care facilities in the area would not take her. They stated that since they didn’t have an x-ray machine, they would just end up referring her to the ER anyway. And trust me, I called A BUNCH of them before even attempting to go to the hospital.

        I even tried calling the hospitals referral system, and they suggested that I take her to the ER.

    • Project_J187 says:

      @stacye: @jimv2000: Problem is urgent care facilities help people with insurance. Parkland is the general purpose hospital for illegals. 19 hour wait for a broken bone is normal.

      It sucks she had to wait and not get helped considering there were probably many people with non serious issues waiting just for free care, but you get what you pay for. In parkland’s case, you pay nothing so expect nothing.

  10. Shark1998 says:

    You know…I recently went to an Emergency room for a pretty nasty cut and I don’t wish to sound racist or insensitive to people who really need care. BUT, I frankly thought I walked into a South American Clinic rather than an American Emergency room.

    I would be willing to bet that many were there without legal documentation or at the very least insurance. This being said, I don’t blame the hospital too much if they at least try to break even for all the money they lose. Unfortunately, it is the person with Insurance that gets to pay and wait in ever increasing lines.

    • chargernj says:

      @Shark1998: Actually according to a recent study it isn’t the un-insured who are causing ER overcrowding.

      Just saw an article this morning:

    • Skybolt says:

      @Shark1998: People without insurance still have to pay. They don’t just walk in and get free care.

      There are millions of uninsured people in the United States. I assure you that most of them are not immigrants or undocumented or whatever it is you’re trying to say.

      • econobiker says:

        @Skybolt: “People without insurance still have to pay. They don’t just walk in and get free care.”

        But if they are the US citizen children of an “indigent” person they probably won’t recover much. That is because the illegal immigrant parent will not tell the hospital his/her fake ID name or Tax ID which he or she uses to work.

    • MoreFunThanToast says:

      @Skybolt: Exactly, I’m US citizen and could not afford health insurance until I got this job that includes health benefits. Actually lots of people I know does not have health insurance and they’re not undocumented/illegal immigrants.

  11. Rectilinear Propagation says:

    Amber says she’s not going to pay the bill.

    If it came down to it I think I’d rather take the hit to my credit than to pay $162 to be ignored for 19 hours.

  12. Burgandy says:

    If it takes that long to see a person with a broken leg, or not see them in this case, I’d dispute the billing on my credit over and over. They will screw it up and not send in their part one of these times.

  13. vdragonmpc says:

    I hate to tell her BUT:

    When my son was born Johnston Willis pulled this. He was a newborn and they sent him home early with jaundice. We had issues the first night and decided to take him to our doctor. After paying the copay the ‘weekend specialist’ rolled in and stated I kid you not: “I dont do newborns”. They refunded the co-pay on the spot and apologized.

    We went to Johnston Willis Hospital and signed into the emergency room around 10 am or so. We had been up all night with the new baby and were worn out. They put us into a room and left us there. We waited until sometime around 5:45pm when a nurse informed us that Chippenham hospital had newborn capabilities. They stated that they were unable to do anything and to come back Monday.

    Needless to say I was pissed off. They had also done “vitals” on my son. It took three untrained nurses 45 minutes to figure out how to do it and then an older nurse came in and demonstrated how to do it for them. That was fabulous. On the way out the door an old lady took one look at my son and said “ah jaundice huh? Just put him under a sun light and he will be fine he just isnt cooked enough”. I went to the store bought a light and my son was fine in a short while. (We had had rainy cold weather when he was born)

    The hospital sent a bill for the visit. I explained what happened and that they had released him early with issues and had KNOWN there was an issue from his own chart. They would not work with me. I will not ever pay for services that never occurred. They know that they had no doctors on staff and could not handle the situation. They should have told us when we walked in but chose not to.


    • DeleteThisAccount says:

      @vdragonmpc: wow I’m sorry you had this experience. Every time, not exaggerating, every time I go to the Doctor I also get the run around. It seems like the Doctors offices are an arcade where they want you to run around and swipe your game card (insurance card) at all the machines until you are broke.

    • Alex7575 says:

      @vdragonmpc: I got one for you too, we lost our second baby in a miscarriage, wife was 6 months pregnant. To make a looooong story short, on that day, we lost our second baby, no doctors could give us a definite answer as to why we lost our baby (it was an infection, that’s all we know) and we came home to a $12,000 bill (both my wife and I have PPO insurance).

      End result: no baby + no answer – $12,000.00

      The doctor who was in charge (the one who delivered our baby) told us to go talk to our doctor when we asked him about what happened.

      So yeah, I have a very, very, very low opinion of doctors.

      • samurailynn says:

        @Alex7575: I would bet that part of the problem is that they are afraid of malpractice lawsuits. They don’t want to give you an answer that sounds like something could have been prevented, because you might turn around and sue them. I’ve heard that if someone dies in a hospital, the staff isn’t even supposed to say something like “I’m sorry for your loss” because of the fear of malpractice lawsuits. (I don’t know how universally true that is, and I can’t remember where I heard it though.)

      • vdragonmpc says:


        Hey, I sympatize, in the middle of the delivery at the same hole of a hospital 2 things happened. Her doctor induced labor to get things rolling. She was in labor and we were waiting for the baby to come and well… The doctor went home. He just left. Gone. We had a nurse that had my wife pushing for several hours. A doctor wandered in and asked how long she had been pushing. When the time was stated the doctor got angry and ordered a C-section as the baby was having issues and was NOT coming out normally due to a pelvic issue.

        The nurse got snippy and was gone. The doctor (my wife’s new and current gynocologist) stayed and got her ready for the C-section. They induced labor at 6am, started us pushing at 5pm and the interuption was at 9:30. My son was distressed and my wife was beat.

        I do not have a lot to say about the staff at that hospital. Of course in the garden there are always some flowers and her current doctor is very good. The previous one should have been fired.

      • Happy Homemaker says:

        @Alex7575: When I first got married I got the depo shot. Something I’ll never do again to save my life. To start out I kept getting false positive pregnancy results. Then one day I got a positive and I began bleeding badly in the bathroom. I go to the ER. The test came up negative for pregnancy and the doctor coldly told me I should have scooped the blood clots out of the toilet and brought them with to the ER so they could run tests on it and that I was just having a “normal period”. When you’re doubled over to the point where your husband is practically carrying you, that is nothing normal about it and the last thing on your mind is going through the toilet and saying, “Honey maybe we should take this with us.” Come to find out later it was a miscarriage then, caused by listeria sepsis, agravated by the depo, my daughter was born with listeria sepsis in the placenta and had to be revived 3 times a year later, and 2 years after that and I had 2 more miscarriages, one after a tubal ligation. For some reason I have he listeria bacteria natually in my body and it sees every pregnancy as a flu, if you will, so the white blood cells begin attacking it trying to drive the foreign invader from their home land, killing the fetus and in the case of my daughter, almost killing myself, in the process. This ER in town has a bad reputation. Everyone likes to say, “You go in to get your left leg removed and wake up to find your right gone.” It’s a bad one

  14. tmlfan81 says:

    I would fight the bill with the hospital as well. I’m not paying for a service that wasn’t fully rendered. The percentage of which actually was is debatable. I would agree to no more than 50% of the bill. Settle for that and call it a day – everyone has far greater concerns in their life than this.

  15. amysisson says:

    Unless there was a HUGE sign (preferably in English and Spanish) saying “Please note that you WILL be charged a minimum of $162 just for speaking to the nurse, whether or not you ultimately receive treatment”…. then I absolutely would not pay that bill.

    Without notice of the charge, under that argument that “you got a service, you have to pay for it,” the hospital could try to charge $162, or $1600, or $16000 for speaking to the nurse! And then when people complain, they would just say “you got a service, you have to pay for it.”

    No, when you go in a restaurant, get seated, but never get your food or drinks, you don’t pay an “assessment” charge even thought the host/hostess “assessed” the number in your party when they seated you at a table of the appropriate size. If you walk into an airport to buy a plane ticket on the spot, but decide against buying, you don’t pay an “assessment” because the ticket agent “assessed” the available flight options. Granted, a nurse assessment is a bit more specialized, but it’s basically a “is this person going to die if we don’t treat him/her this second?” quick look. There is NO justification for charging $162 for that.

    • Pylon83 says:

      You go into a hospital well aware that they charge for virtually everything. You sit down with a nurse, fill out all the necessary paperwork, they evaluate you and send you back to wait. You received a specialized, professional service that is completely distinguishable from being seated in a restaurant. In a restaurant there is no professional service rendered when you are seated, and you don’t expect to be billed for that service. I find it hard to believe that someone would go into a hospital and not expect to be billed for a service rendered by a nurse. The fact that the OP is angry about the overall level of service received doesn’t render the service provided by the nurse irrelevant, and she should pay it. People who refuse to pay hospital bills run up costs for the rest of us.

      • vdragonmpc says:


        Honestly after teaching at a college that had a medical program. I would say a restaurant waitress is more skilled than the person taking your vitals.

        Not to be scary but there is a whole new world of titles in the medical industry to get ‘less skilled labor’ I know that they call them medical assistants and “Practical Nurses” which really means: Attended 9 months of school where they may not have shown up for class 80% of the time.

    • bria says:

      I think you raise a lot of good points… I don’t think anyone in the universe expects to be charged for sitting in a waiting room. This gets into a lot of those weird rules with policy vs law.

      • Pylon83 says:

        I agree that you don’t expect to be charged to sit in the waiting room. I DO expect to be charged to be seen and evaluated by a nurse.

        • jimv2000 says:


          Have you ever been to an ER? The nurses barely do anything during this “evaluation”. They ask you what’s wrong, take your blood pressure and temp, and then have you sit down. $160 for that is a scam.

  16. kaizoku80 says:

    @undefined: @Skybolt:

    No rational reason other than not wanting to see my taxes increase so that the revenue can pay for some uneducated, chain smoking, alcoholic, welfare recipient’s health care and the health care of their equally worthless offspring.

    • rellog says:

      @kaizoku80: All problems directly linked to a diminishing social net in America…
      BTW, your taxes might go up a bit, but you’d get free health care… in the end you’d be better off.

      Also…. they’re ALREADY getting free health care….
      A mind is a terrible thing to waste!

      • dragonfire81 says:

        @rellog: I am also Canadian and have had many good experiences with our health care. I think the longest I ever waited to see a doctor was around 2 hours.

        • johnva says:

          @dragonfire81: Thanks for chiming in with that. The alleged extreme suckiness of the Canadian system is a standard right-wing propaganda talking point down here, and it gets dragged into every single discussion about reform of our system. A lot of people have been suckered into believing a set of “facts” that aren’t, um, “true”. They’re entitled to their opinions, but they’re not entitled to their own facts.

  17. The_IT_Crone says:

    I unfortunately just spoke to my insurance company Monday to argue a charge for a matter very similar to this.

    In a nutshell* this is what they said: “because the trained professionals used their skills in their job, the charge is accurate.”

    Now I happen to think it’s UNETHICAL, but I don’t think she’d be able to win any case/argument.

    * “Help! This is me in a nutshell!”

  18. rawsteak says:

    she LEFT after 19 hours without getting her leg FIXED? did she have a bottle of ‘tussin nearby to patch her up temporarily?

    i think after the first 12 hours, i would have tried to stand up, collapse on the floor and sprawl my limbs as much as possible, and tell the medics i passed out from the pain. sure, i’d run the risk of getting hurt some more by the busy doctors and nurses, but they wouldn’t just prop me up against the wall and keep moving, would they?

    • HogwartsAlum says:


      I always heard that the best way to get in is to throw up all over the floor. You could always loudly say, “I’m so sorry but I’m in so much pain from my broken leg that I puked everywhere!”

    • MissPeacock says:

      @rawsteak: Actually, they may just leave you there to die. Remember the mentally ill woman in New York who died while laying in the middle of the floor of the ER?

      • little stripes says:

        @MissPeacock: BUT OUR HEALTH CARE IS JUST FINE! No need for government-funded health care. I mean, everyone who needs health care, aka the white and well off, already have it, so who cares? Let everyone else die.


      • econobiker says:

        @MissPeacock: If you read the story another man died there after having a heart attack and waiting:

        “A few days before Milbrodt’s visit, a 58-year-old man who went to the ER with stomach pains also waited 19 hours – and then suffered cardiac arrest and died.”

  19. Lolotehe says:

    This is less an “insurance” story and more of an “underfunded county hospital” story. Parkland is the county hospital in Dallas and so anyone without insurance goes there for emergency care. Sadly, many ERs are used as free clinics and that’s why Parkland had opened several free clinics around the county to alleviate the problem. Socialized health-care (would “nationalized” be more palatable?) would actually alleviate these issues by spreading it around. Amber went to Parkland because she does not have insurance; and that lack of insurance is why most people go there.

  20. AletheaPhoenix says:

    The same thing happened to me. I waited for 4 hours with severe back pain in Phoenix Baptist Hospital. They did not bother to call me even though there were just 2 other patients there. So, I walked out of the hospital and went to another one. One month later I get billed $125. The reason according to them is that they checked my vitals.

    So I called them up and they said that they were ready to give a 25% discount to me if I pay right then or else I have to pay the whole amount. It is just plain injustice.

  21. mariospants says:

    Wow. I’m beginning to have a healthy respect for the Canadian system right about now…

    • Valhawk says:

      @mariospants: Hope you enjoy waiting months instead of hours.

      Heres the thing people have very crazy expectations about heathcare so here is a simplification I’ve seen.



      You can have any two.

      • m1ek says:

        @Valhawk: You have any data, even anectdotes, to back up your implication that somebody with a broken leg has ever, even one time, waited months for it to be treated in Canada?

        No, I didn’t think you did.

      • DH405 says:

        @Valhawk: So, you’re Canadian?

      • crashfrog says:

        @Valhawk: You may wait months for non-essential quality-of-life surgeries in Canada or France, but America is the only industrial nation where you can’t get in for something like a broken leg – which can kill you – right away.

        You tell me if that’s better, I guess. Nobody else in the world seems to think so – along with a majority of Americans.

    • IC18 says:

      @mariospants: same here

  22. Scoobatz says:

    The sad part is she probably checked in with a nurse who took her name, gave her a seat, then left for the day — only to return back to work to start her next shift while this woman continued to wait in that chair.

    Unfortunately, broken legs don’t rank high on the priority list of an emergency room. I remember my 5 year nephew breaking his leg during soccer practice on a Saturday morning. My sister took him to the emergency room and they made him wait 7 hours before he finally got a cast. That’s completely outrageous for any age, especially a young child.

    • Valhawk says:

      @Scoobatz: You have to consider what ranks higher. A broken leg won’t kill you if you wait for 19 hours many other conditions will.

      • crashfrog says:

        @Valhawk: No, a broken leg will kill you. The jagged edge of the bone can cause internal bleeding and sepsis. Depending on where the fracture is it can be fatal very quickly.

      • oneandone says:

        @Valhawk: It could…. but I agree, some things are an ’emergency’ and some things are ‘urgent’ and there should be a better way of getting seen for things that are bad but not fatal.

        A friend of mine had his hand accidentally slammed in a car door. He had to wait 6 hours to be seen. Extremely unpleasant situation.

    • cadieg says:

      @Scoobatz: would it be ridiculous if you knew that ambulances were coming in with people dying, people were walking in not being able to breathe or with lots of other serious medical complaints? broken legs suck, i agree, but the vast vast majority are NOT fatal. if he was internally bleeding, by the time he got to the ER, the ER would have been able to tell.

      • mythago says:

        @cadieg: There’s no reason the ER staff can’t explain “We’ve got a multi-car accident coming in, it’s going to be a while” or otherwise let you know that you have options other than sitting on your ass being exposed to other people’s plague germs for six hours.

        • Valhawk says:

          @mythago: The problem is that ER’s are stuffed to the gills with patients, because no one goes to their primary care docs anymore.

          @crashfrog: Also, what is more likely to kill you faster, a broken leg or a gunshot/knife wound, internal bleeding, cutoff fingers, drug overdose, etc.

  23. balthisar says:

    Seriously… who the heck goes to an emergency room for a potentially broken leg? Yeah, maybe immigrants/tourists that don’t know any better, but someone who’s obviously from around here? Or maybe I live in a wonderland, whereas everyone elsewhere in the country is bereft of walk-in clinics, urgent care clinics (i.e., not hospital emergency rooms), and ambulatory clinics. Potential heart attack? Okay, emergency room. Even if it turns out it was just gas, it was potentially an emergency situation. But a broken leg? They should fine this person for wasting the hospital’s time.

    • stacye says:

      @balthisar: Most of the free clinics in the Dallas area don’t have x-ray machines, and they would refer you to a hospital.

    • erratapage says:

      @balthisar: I got run over by an SUV. Broke my leg (I also had a minor concussion and lots of abrasions). Went to the emergency room, because I needed immediate medical attention and that’s where the ambulance goes.

    • kathyl says:

      @balthisar: On my insurance card, it lists the minimum co-pay for a hospital visit as $25 and the minimum co-pay for a clinic as $50. A lot of people making this choice may be doing it because the amounts listed on their insurance card make it seem as though the hospital is the less expensive choice.

      (I find the whole co-pay discrepancy dumb, myself, but I didn’t get to pick the insurance plan, as it is the only one provided by my husband’s employer.)

    • Alex7575 says:

      @balthisar: How about tax paying uninsured Americans? You’ll find more of those at an ER than immigrants and tourists.

    • balthisar says:

      @balthisar: Guys, I don’t even mean free clinics. I mean ambulatory clinics, urgent care centers. They’re like hospital emergency rooms, but for non-emergencies. They’re usually affiliated with hospitals, but the whole point is, you don’t have to go to the hospital.

      Erratapage, your condition would have qualified for an emergency situation even if the bad driver had been in a Smart instead of an SUV.

      Alex, then they’re idiots, and should go to the non-emergency care centers. I can’t believe they’re all over the place here, and no one else knows about them.

      • Alex7575 says:

        @balthisar: The whole point is that people who go to emergency rooms, are the people who don’t have insurance and/or the means to pay for treatment. ERs are not allowed to turn anyone down regardless of ability to pay.

        Are any of those places you are mentioning free of charge? You may want to refrain from calling people idiots without knowing what their circumstances are.

  24. trixrabbit says:

    @scoobatz: yup. i broke my leg a long time ago and went to the emergency room. it took me about 4 hours to see a doctor.

    while i was waiting (in agonizing pain), many other people with life-threatening problems were seen before me. that’s no problem — i can’t imagine what it would be like if the roles were reversed.

  25. Toof_75_75 says:

    @Alex7575: You are misconstruing the words, here.

    Break up the three sections there…

    Life – The government is to protect you (Military)
    Liberty – The US is based on the personal freedom of its citizens (which would include the freedom not to have health insurance and not to pay for other people

    • Toof_75_75 says:

      @Toof_75_75: oops…it cut me off there…I’ll just pick up where it left off:

      s’ health insurance)
      Pursuit Of Happiness – This directly ties to liberty in that you should have the freedom to make the best for yourself. You shouldn’t be held back by the government, especially in the name of “fairness”

    • Alex7575 says:

      @junkmail: We could play on words all day, then how am I going to pursue happiness if I can’t even get my health taken care of? My argument is weak and it’s about a sentence that is open to anyone’s interpretation. But my point remains that it’s for the best that everyone has accessible health care.

      What do you think kill more Americans? Iraqi terrorists, or lack of adequate medical treatment?

      “not to pay for other people” to this day, doesn’t matter how many times I hear that argument, it’s beyond me that you think that anyone you love or even yourself is not going to need medical help. How would you react, if you get hit by a stroke and get paralized for the rest of your life? Would you still think that people shouldn’t help “leeches” that can’t fend for themselves?

      Do you honestly think that you’re going to be healthy forever? Do you understand that even people who have money, are struggling to meet hospital and medicine bills?

      Why should you pay for someone else’s health?!? Because health is a basic need, just as basic as food and water.

      I see you love Reagan, tell me what his stance was on stem cell research, and what happened to that stance later on?

      You’re not going to be healthy forever. And if shit hits your fan, wouldn’t you be glad that at least you won’t have to worry about dying from sickness?

  26. Trai_Dep says:

    Glad to see that our health system is #1 in the world and doesn’t need any improvement. I hear that in those socialist places (yeah, I’m looking at YOU, Canada), you’d have to wait almost a day. And not even see a doctor!!
    Although, I guess it’s a win because they managed to charge the woman $200 to take her temperature. Go USA!!

    Umm, I thought that if they catch you with a broken leg in Texas, they simply shoot you in the head with a bolt-cannon. I guess that they are turning purple.

  27. Piedmont says:

    I’m Canadian. I live in Canada. Wait times in Canadian hospitals vary for certain, and your ailment and condition will clearly have an affect on that. I’m sure glad I live here, though, and not somewhere where I would be worrying over whether I’ll be able to fix whatever part of me or my family members is broken. As for the personal cost of having universal health care, I’d say it’s part of the cost of of living in a social democracy. Tommy Douglas, I salute you. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like we don’t have problems, but it’s our system so the problems are (or should be) ours to fix.

  28. Piedmont says:

    re my last post – meant to say “…I’ll be able to afford to fix whatever part of me…”

  29. Cyclokitty says:

    I live in Canada and have waited hours in emergency rooms in the past waiting to see a doctor, but not 19 hours for anything. My brother broke his finger as a kid, and we spent maybe 2 hours total waiting for him to be x-rayed and patched up in the emergency room.

    I know people who’ve waited 3, 4, 5 hours to see a doctor but they all managed to see a real live doctor and get treatment: the more life threatening (one friend had shellfish and is allergic) saw a doctor in moments to nasty painful injury but not life threatening (a friend broke his big toe) in a few hours.

    The OP must have balls of pure brass to drag her broken leg back home and stick it in a brace. I am no doctor, but I think I’d go and see one to make sure my leg is healing.

  30. GrandizerGo says:

    I forget the name, but I remember from ER… (I know it’s a TV show, but a LOT of the info on their is correct…) Isn’t there a Federal Law, (Corey or something like that) where someone HAS to be seen by a Doctor in a reasonable amount of time. Reasonable might not even be accurate, it might have a TRUE FIXED value…
    And people / city / state can bring a lawsuit for not being seen in that amount of time.

  31. little stripes says:

    Anyone against government-funded health care probably has health care already, and good health care, and is privileged in other ways as well.

    Do you know how many people in this country do not have health care? Why is our health care so fucking bad? This is the USA, and people can’t even get basic health care. THAT IS A PROBLEM.

    • Alex7575 says:

      @little stripes: I have a PPO plan that costs me $275 every month (just for my son and I). Wife is out of job now, and for the first time, we really can’t afford paying for hers separately.

      Our income is over six figures (mine alone is near six figures). Given that we live in So CA (so we pay an arm and a leg for the mortgage alone).

      When the middle class is having trouble buying insurance, THAT IS A PROBLEM

  32. msbask says:

    When I had my daughter (20 years ago), she was born completely naturally — no drugs, no epidural, nothing.

    I was billed several hundred dollars for an anesthesiologist. When I questioned the bill, I was told it was because the doctor was “on call” in case I needed him.

    This seemed ridiculous to me. Why wasn’t I billed for an on-call cardiologist in case I had heart troubles? Or an on-call podiatrist in case I hurt my feet while walking the halls in labor?

    I have no problem paying for all the nurses and obstetricians, but I went through an awful lot of pain because I didn’t want anesthesia. I’ll be damned if I pay for it! My insurance ended up paying most of the bill (even after I asked them not to and advised them I was being billed for a service I did NOT receive), but I refused to pay my $68 share.

    Fast forward 6 years and while trying to get a mortgage, that $68 came back to haunt me. I ended up having to pay it just to get a decent mortgage rate.

    Still burns my ass to this day.

  33. johnva says:

    @sir_pantsalot: Medicare is much more cost-effective and efficient than private insurance, as measured by the percentage of aggregate resources spent on administrative costs and overhead. And the best-run single-payer healthcare systems in the world, which we could easily copy if we could break the lobbying power of hte insurance industry, are far more efficient than our Medicare.

    • Valhawk says:

      @johnva: Medicare is the most efficent because it eases it costs by forcing doctors to do all of the work. Just look at the coding system, and try and make sense of it.

      That and on average it pays about 60 cents on the dollar of actual cost. So the only reason it looks efficient is it forces work on already overworked doctors while paying less than its billed. It works better because it cheats. If you went to a restaurant and only payed 60% of the bill you would be arrested, but the government won’t arrest itself.

  34. Toof_75_75 says:

    If I got sick and the money I had saved up to that point and the insurance I have didn’t cover my costs, well then I’d expect to be SOL. It’s the American way. I make my life be what I want it to be and I get out of my life what I work towards. If something goes wrong, I wouldn’t expect the government to sweep in and assist me. Of any kind of assistance I would hope to receive, it would be from friends and family and even possibly non-profit organizations.

    I don’t expect to be healthy forever, but when I get sick, I will have planned well enough that it won’t be an issue.

    • KStrike155 says:

      @Toof_75_75: “but when I get sick, I will have planned well enough that it won’t be an issue.”

      How can you plan for the exact moment you’ll get sick?

    • Alex7575 says:

      @Toof_75_75: “well then I’d expect to be SOL. It’s the American way.”

      I’m sorry, I don’t know where to start to disagree with you on this one. It seems the more we present our arguments, the more we drift apart.

      For what is worth, in my opinion:

      To be an American is to be the first one to offer a hand to those in need.

      To be an American is to be the strongest, so we can help the weakest.

      To be an American is to have your chin held up because we know we’re wise and fair.

      And, call me stupid or a dreamer or tacky or whatever you want, but to be an American is NOT to be a lone ranger or a cowboy.

    • cordeliapotter says:

      @Toof_75_75: I think a person without health insurance can pass a deadly disease onto those with health insurance. And if that person only had access to affordable healthcare, they wouldn’t be passing terminal dieseases onto you, forcing you to spend your last years in misery.

  35. KerryWembrey says:

    This is dumbfounding to me. I guess it all depends on where you live. I live in a suburb of a rural, college town in Western PA. I work full time and part-time and have 2 uninsured children. I do not qualify for the chip program.

    My daughter recently hurt her ankle playing in the yard. I waited 24 hours, treating with ice and motrin. When she awoke the next morning not able to bear weight, we headed to our local hospital. Services like a walk-in clinic, fast track or non-urgent care have not made it to our town yet.

    In the door and register as a self-pay. Within 15 minutes we were shown to a room, x-rays and consult with a doctor done by 45 minutes into the visit, released with an airbrace, crutches, and referral to an orthopedic dr., out the door in an hour and a half.

    The bill came in the mail, $1200. Called to set up payment schedule, they lowered it to $600 and took my debit card for the first payment over the phone for $200.

    Just a note, I checked into private insurance for me and the kids. Cheapest i could find would run me $548 a month. Thats 1 1/2 checks from my full time job.

    19 hours. Wow.

  36. SadSam says:

    I was involved in a similar situation a few years back. I waited at one hospital e/r for a couple of hours, was seen by a nurse. I eventually left or was actually taken by my boyfriend at the time to another hospital b/c he was concerned for my health. At hosptial #2 I was admitted right away due to my very high fever and rampant infection of some kind.

    When I got hospital #1’s bill I declined to pay same and explained that I was curious about the level of care or lack of care and explained the steps taken by hosptial #2. They waived the bill.

    Hospital #2’s bill was paid in full by me (no insurance at the time).

  37. johnva says:

    @Toof_75_75: First off, some conditions are so expensive that they are literally almost impossible for a non-wealthy individual to afford even with insurance. There are some conditions for which treatment might cost $2 million, and if you have a 20% coinsurance (not uncommon) then that could be $400,000 out of pocket right there. That’s more than the majority of people have saved for retirement, so can you see how medical bills can easily bankrupt people? Even people who have “planned ahead”?

    Also, there are plenty of people who can’t “plan ahead” for getting sick. I’ve got a progressive genetic condition that I was destined from birth to show signs of starting in my teenage years. Was I supposed to be saving thousands of dollars to pay for the problems associated with that by running a lemonade stand as a kid? I can pay, but just barely, and only because I have generous insurance benefits and have gotten payment assistance from a private foundation for my disease. You act like it’s the fault of whoever can’t pay for their own care for not planning ahead, but a lot of bad things happen to little kids and young people just starting out in life (including genetic diseases, accidents, etc, many of which have lasting effects that cost a lot of money to treat even after the kids are no longer covered by a parent’s insurance). It’s not really their fault that bad things happened to them before they could financially absorb it. And then people like John McCain want to give insurance companies even more power to discriminate on the basis of preexisting conditions, by forcing more people into the individually underwritten market. If I had to get insurance in that market, I would NEVER be able to get health insurance in my entire life after becoming independent of my parents.

    Personally, I think you’re engaging in a rationalization that a lot of people do when they have trouble empathizing with people who have had different experiences than they have. You imagine that health failures and the inability to pay for them are somehow a moral failure to take personal responsibility, and that getting sick is something that happens to old people because it hasn’t happened to you yet. In reality things are much more complicated, and I think you just don’t want to pay for more than what you personally use.

  38. Xanaxian says:

    I broke my leg last year and was recovering from surgery and full of morphine within 19 hours. Damn this Canadian socialized medicine!!

  39. NikkiSweet says:

    Go to Parkland if you want to be sure to never see a doctor…

    I collapsed at work (I have systemic Lupus that at the time was undiagnosed, and I was *very* ill) and my co-workers drove me to Parkland. I was completely unconscious when I was brought in, the charge nurse rushed me into a room, got IVs started on me, and took my vitals, and then left… 8 hours later, when I was finally semi-coherent, I was told that a doctor had not been in to see me yet. Seriously?? I wasn’t able to get up and move myself, otherwise I would have walked out (dunno how I would have gotten back to my car… but that’s a whole other story..). I was in the ER for over 24 hours before I was finally able to see a doctor, who then refused to listen to anything I had to say, and tried treating me for anorexia. He argued with me that he sees this all the time, “Girls get stressed out and need attention, so they stop eating…” Sure, let’s load me up on pain killers, anti-depressants and then discharge me…

    I guess I got lucky.. my bill was only around $5k for the ER visit.

    Luckily, DFW has other hospitals that are decent (Like Baylor, and St Paul, and All Saints, and Huguley…), but I will *never* let anyone take me to Parkland again…

    • Alex7575 says:

      @NikkiSweet: “my bill was only around $5k for the ER visit.” For anorexia? Thank God he got it wrong, how much would have they charged if you were treated for Lupus?

      Everyone has a story, everyone I know has one. Yet nothing gets done, sighs…

  40. johnva says:

    @Valhawk: No, Medicare is the most efficient because it has the largest economies of scale and the biggest pool. And yes, it does pay less than it should, but that would make its numbers look MORE inefficient, not less, because they would reduce the percentage of the money going into care. I’m not saying Medicare is great, but I’m saying that it’s better than private insurers. And private insurers are guilty of exactly the same things you’re talking about (underpaying, and imposing onerous administrative requirements on providers). Now multiply the differing administrative requirements by the number of private insurers in an area, and you multiply the work done by the providers administratively. The existence of many private insurers actually increases the administrative overhead.

    Look, you’re not going to successfully argue that private insurance as we do it here is more efficient than well-run government insurance, because you’re simply dead wrong on that point. Medicare isn’t exactly well-run, but like I said we should copy the best systems from other countries. These problems have already been solved much better than we have done it, mainly because the existence of massive lobbying money distorts the process here.

  41. Beerad says:

    @Toof_75_75: “It’s the American way.”

    Sorry to join the dogpile, but that’s just wrong. It’s a rather primitive, selfish way to run a society, for sure, but lots of people believe that the American way is to provide a basic financial safety net for folks who need it (e.g. Social Security, Medicaid/Medicare).

    “Where in the Constitution does anyone find…” It’s in there, next to the parts about right-to-privacy, space exploration, and environmental protections. Don’t hurt yourself looking.

    “when I get sick, I will have planned well enough that it won’t be an issue.” I don’t know how old you are or how much money you make, but unless your last name is Buffett, you don’t make enough to cover it I promise. Heaven forbid you should be in a major car accident or suddenly be diagnosed with a chronic disease, but medical bills can add up to hundreds of thousands of dollars in a dizzying hurry. Hope you saved enough!

  42. johnva says:

    @dragonfire81: It’s sure up there. I haven’t been paying as much attention here lately, though, or I’m sure I could run it up.

  43. johnva says:

    @cordeliapotter: Another point is that we are already providing some level of care for the uninsured, but in a way that is terribly inefficient both financially and as far as providing good, quality, lifelong health care. We provide them care at the emergency departments, and we provide them care when they’re hospitalized, can’t pay their bills, are bankrupted, and the hospital has to eat the costs. Those costs get passed onto those who still can pay, creating a spiral where even more people can’t afford insurance, and so on. Detailed economic studies have shown that it would be far more financially efficient to just give those people access to free preventative care through doctors and thus reduce their reliance on expensive forms of care like emergency departments. Moreover, because we would be more effective at preventing major health problems and complications, we would reduce the incidence of REALLY costly uninsured care, AND free more people to be productive members of the workforce rather than sick in a hospital or nursing home bed.

    But what do all the other countries that have tried this successfully know? Right-wing ideology can’t be wrong.

  44. nataku8_e30 says:

    @undefined: @Valhawk: I think that you and johnva are talking about two different definitions of efficiency. johnva is talking about the cost of running medicare vs. the amount that is paid out (overhead efficiency) while you are talking about the total cost of the system vs. the amount of health-care provided.

    One of the big issues with private health insurance as it stands is the overhead efficiency. Have you ever noticed how many people there are working in a doctors office simply to process insurance paperwork to file a claim? Then you have the people on the other side, at the insurance company, who have to re-process that paperwork to enter the claim into their system, the people who have to review the claim, the people responsible for fulfilling the claim. You add in the cost of malpractice insurance for the doctors and everyone who has to file both sides of that, etc… and you can begin to see why private insurance has such outrageous overhead costs. Unfortunately, even the “liberal” Obama is still advocating preservation of this ridiculous system. I think you’re really not going to see any real reduction of costs or expansion of benefits until the whole concept of health insurance is eliminated in its entirety.

  45. johnva says:

    @nataku83: You got it exactly right. I was talking about overhead when I used the word “efficiency”. And yes, Obama doesn’t propose a full nationalization of the health insurance industry, even though I really wish he would and think that that will become necessary, ultimately. The big barrier to meaningful reform is that the health insurance industry controls literally trillions of dollars. That amount of money represents a huge amount of political power in our money-driven system. So Obama knows that it would be political suicide for him to go up against that full-on, even with so many of us covering his back. My hope now is that since his plan gives people access to the federal plan, he can then slowly take subtle, stealthy steps to make private health insurance unprofitable as a business and kill off the industry over time. I think that’s the only way we can break their stranglehold on Washington…cut off their money supply.

  46. VRWC says:

    Why is this filed under insurance?

    It clearly states in the article that the woman has no insurance.

    Not that waiting 19 hours is acceptable, but I’d be willing to bet that part of it was due to the very low odds of the hospital actually getting compensated for treating someone with no insurance.

  47. tinmanx says:

    The way I see all these people on the street signing “low income” folks up for free health insurance, I thought we already have universal health care in the US. All you gotta do is work off the books and not pay any taxes, and bam! You get FREE health insurance! It’s even better than my paid insurance since there is no copay!

  48. crashfrog says:

    What? Waiting for health care? Impossible, this is the United States, and I’m reliably informed that the only place they wait for healthcare is Canada.

  49. johnva says:

    @Craysh: The VA has better health outcome statistics than most private insurers. They certainly have some problems with bureaucracy, but they do provide good, cost-effective healthcare. My understanding is that the biggest problem with the VA is qualifying for their services. You also have to remember that the VA is dealing with a pool of people who are substantially more unhealthy than the general population; you need to compare apples to apples. And finally, in case there’s any confusion, the military hospitals like Walter Reed are NOT part of the VA system.

  50. cortana says:

    I guess I’ll chip in too.

    I went to a hospital in Northern California (which will not be named), with what I knew was high blood pressure, and a cough. I got triaged, went into an exam room, and then I woke up…

    out of a coma. 8 weeks later.

    Tack on to this another 3 weeks in intensive care and recovery, a surgical lung biopsy, nuclear medicine treatment and more, and I finally went home (in a cab, as the hospital had my car towed from its own lot).

    The bill came a couple weeks later, for $276,000. The hospital never could tell me what was wrong with me, never really fixed what the underlying problem was at all, I just got better over the 11 weeks or so I was there. Luckily, they also never went after me to pay that bill, so that’s why I won’t complain about the actual hospital. Still, there’s a hell of a lot of poor medicine going on out there. I don’t think the government could run it any worse, if you ask me.

  51. cadieg says:

    i’ll tack on too. i’m an ER nurse (heh…) and often work the much hated triage area. i work at a pretty small ER in the suburbs of albuquerque, NM where wait times are not much higher than 4-6 hours. at bigger ERs in abq, wait times can be upwards of 24 hours to even get to a room.

    that said, life threatening conditions or seriously ill people get to a room within 10-15 minutes regardless of size of ER/current wait times. leg pain, which sucks no doubt, can often get pushed back when you have people waiting coming in for breathing trouble, chest pain, belly pain- especially this time of year when the respiratory season is staring.

    usually when a patient is a “left without being seen” they are charged for a nurse visit unless we ordered XRays, gave them pain meds in the lobby (and many ERs can do this without a doc approval), etc. with my hospital at least, this is because a nurse saw you, assessed you and determined your level of severity. nurses aren’t stupid- we’re a well trained, critical thinking profession. triage nurses are especially well trained to be able to assess you before a doctor can even lay eyes on you. we have a very objective “triage score” that places leg pain towards the middle-lower end of the scale.

    19 hours is crazy and absolutely frustrating, i admit. but… i’m sure dallas is a much busier city for ERs than albuquerque.

  52. Steele says:

    I went to the UMC ER in Vegas with chest pain, and a noted heart condition. Just to be seen in triage took 45 minutes. 60 minutes later they decided to take an EKG in a room that had a printer for all the nurses and doctors to use (and were coming and going during). Then 15 minutes later they took blood for two blood tests one of which was a pregnancy test, which I am over 40 and had my tubes tied 10 years prior and refused authorization for that test.

    Six hours later I was still sitting in the ER and asked about a wait time, and was told if I was still sitting in the ER and not in a bed then I wasn’t in an emergency condition although my blood pressure 177/112, my heart rate was over 130 and I had chest pain, that it could be a 8-10 hour additional wait and it would probably be faster for me to see a Dr if I went home, wait six hours and then go to one of their urgent care clinics in the morning. My comment to the nurse was that if it wasn’t an emergency situation, then I don’t need to be here.

    I had someone take me to a different hospital. One week later, I received a bill from UMC for over $2,500. On that bill was a room price, a triage price, an EKG price and 2 blood test prices. Nothing else.

    I called the business office and refused to pay the bill in that amount, stating that I had refused one blood test, and I had left the ER after arriving 8 hours prior since a nurse told me that if I was still waiting in the ER, then it wasn’t an emergency situation and there weren’t any beds available, while still having chest pain, and went to another ER to which I promptly was taken into the ER within seven minutes of walking in the door. I am not going to disclose my medical condition however, the DR at the other ER stated if I would have waited six hours, I would probably have had a stroke.

    UMC’s billing office said so sad too bad, pay the bill. I told them to send me a corrected bill, or take me to court. That was two months ago, I am still receiving the $2,500 bill.

  53. mythago says:

    This week I found out the ONLY way to get a doctor’s attention.

    My spouse fell while walking the dog and hit his chest…really hard. So hard that he had trouble breathing and couldn’t stand up unaided. We drove to the ER and I dropped him at the door while I parked the car, which took all of two minutes. When I walked into the waiting room, he was GONE. I went back into the patient area and found him…already hooked up to an EKG and undergoing testing.

    Apparently being a middle-aged guy and saying “I’m having really bad chest pain and I can’t breathe” gets their attention in a way that absolutely nothing else, including “I can’t get the bleeding to stop,” does.

  54. SaritaLagin says:

    I had a similar situation when I was billed $300 for signing the ER roster, but was not seen by a doctor, when I waited in severe pain for 6 hours before I walked out and went to another hospital’s ER (I was diagnosed with kidney stones, and was by then bleeding heavily). I refused to pay the bill, and started getting nasty letters from the hospital threatening to ruin my credit. I spoke to a lawyer, who wrote them several nasty letters, but I continued to get threats from the hospital’s collection agency. Finally the lawyer saw a bigwig hospital board member he was friendly with on the treadmill next to his at his health club, told him my story while jogging and also told the board member to see to it that the hospital never bothered me again. It worked.

  55. wineinger says:

    Nothing can be more frustrating than waiting. But please remember: Emergencies come 1st – no that broken leg is not an emergency – it is urgent yes but likely not life threatening. The money charged you DOES NOT in 99% of the cases go to the ER docs – that’s just not how they are paid. You should be charged 0, but don’t blame your bill on doctors – it’s the hospital call.

    I am a physician and do not feel I make more for the time I put in than most other professions (I am not a specialist) – You have to figure all of the lost wages for training and the way beyond 40 hours that docs put in. Case in point – Petroleum Engineers graduating from my old school with a 4 year degree – $125,000. My starting salary from 4 years college, 4 years med school, 3 years residency – $120,000 with $200,000 debt. That’s not exactly a good deal.

    I’ll will tell you honestly we fight the administration and insurance companies daily for our patients – much of this is never seen by the patient. 99% of the docs got into this to help people, not to get rich (no worry there).

    Bottom line is ER’s cost a lot to staff and run – they almost always lose money for the hospital. You want fast service? You have to pay for it. Currently in the US we don’t. I recall someone saying: fast, good, cheap – pick 2.

    • gibbersome says:

      As a medical student, I can attest that the “99% of docs” figure is a little high (not our fault, med school is expensive). Perhaps many of my colleagues will grow a heart by the time they graduate…

  56. Pious_Augustus says:

    This isn’t bad, problem was she had insurance and is paying for this mess up what is a problem, I think. If there is no insurance then yeah your going to have some problems.

    In America we do have FREE HEALTH care which is completely goverment run, it’s called the VA which is given to our Veterans and its crap. Our feeds have to wait hours or months for anything and there treatment is below par. They don’t get treated with the same respect or use the same benefits as the Lord and Savior Obama claims every member of Congress has…No its crap

  57. Foxtrot Uniform Charlie Kilo says:

    if you call an ambulance for any reason they automatically stick you in a room right away, regardless of what’s happening to you Or you can lie and tell the triage nurse your having chest pain, they’ll stick you in a room right away for that too

  58. RandomZero says:

    @Craysh: “People in Canada, a country that has this much touted government run health-care system, come to the U.S. because they know the doctors there are superior.”

    Except that doesn’t seem to be the case. Once again, I’ll have to point to the alarmist right-wing newspaper that bemoans the positively massive number of patients sent to the US – 150 in two years! the sky is falling!

    (Oh, by the way, the Canadian medical trade for US citizens is a billion-dollar industry, but we won’t talk about that.)

    People want hard research data regarding health-care costs; here’s a start. Note that US expenditure as a percentage of GDP is ridiculously high by comparison, and even your public-sector spending is greater than our much-maligned system. While we’re at it, what’s more important to you, your money or your life? Canadian life expectancy and lost tiem due to disability are both lower than in the US’s wonderful private system. In short, it costs more to both you and the government, and does less. How can this possibly be anything but the worst option?

  59. sodden says:

    Roads are paid for by local/state/county taxes, not by feds. The feds do not create roads. At the most, they sometime partly subsidize a highway, but this is known as a pork project.

    The feds HAVE been involved in hospital care for decades. If you don’t believe it, go see a hospital administrator and ask. A large chunk of your paycheck goes to pay for national health care already. Don’t believe it? Then it’s time you actually looked at your pay stub.

    We don’t have a free market for medicine and we haven’t for 40+ years or more. Back in the 40’s, it didn’t cost the equivalent of $1200 to fix a broken leg. This didn’t happen until the feds got involved and basically fucked up the system.

    Canadian medicine…I don’t know much about it. I have heard the even Canadian doctors come down here to the US to have operations done.

    Why is insurance so high? 2 reasons: medical care is high (because of fed interference), and because employers have made it a benefit for decades. Employers being the customers of most medical insurance, are mostly concerned about their costs, not yours. So most insurance is restrictive. Getting it directly ends up being expensive, for the same reason that paying for medical care without insurance is expensive….because the seller can’t make as much profit on the insurance-paid care or employer-paid insurance.

  60. Anonymous says:

    I’m an orthopaedic surgery resident at an inner city midwestern hospital, so I have a little experience with this type of situation. The thing is, there are so many different factors that go into the dreadfully long ER wait times and high charges for seemingly simple services that this forum couldn’t even begin to address them all. The one thing that I can tell you for sure is that I am doing my best to help you. That is why I come to work every day. I am 30 years old and I am already a quarter million in debt. I will make about 45 grand a year for the next five years. True, after that I will probably make 200 to 300, and that had something to do with my career choice. But at the end of the day I just want to fix your broken bones so that you can get back to your everyday life again, and I am going to try to do it in the quickest, most efficient, and most cost effective way possible. Right now I am learning, so if you come to my hospital it will take a little bit longer to get things done. The other residents around me are still learning, too, so things are that much slower. Doesn’t mean we aren’t trying to help you as best as we can. I don’t expect my attitude to change when my training is completed, considering that it has been drilled into my very core 80 hours a week, every week, for five years. Thus, when I’m making 200 grand for my services, I will still be trying as hard as I can to help you. Yes, there are lazy, corrupt physicians out there making a killing by working the system. But don’t forget about me, and the majority of my colleagues, who are honestly just trying to help you while making a good living doing it. I know that 400 or 500 grand a year seems like a lot of money. But think about it, if a neurosurgeon only made 50 or 60 grand a year, would the best and brightest students be motivated to go through the hell that they do to become one? No. If that were the case, Joe in accounting might have become one. Do you really want Joe in accounting to operate on your brain?

  61. Anonymous says:

    I went to UMC in Las Vegas with a broken ankle. I sat in the ER for 12 hours before I got disgusted and left hopping on one foot.
    I received a bill in the mail for the visit, including x-rays, crutches and a cast that were all never received. They also told me I was a liar and that I must have received all of those services if they billed me for them. I did not pay.

  62. twinpeak says:

    My son who is a freshman in college, went to ER like 10pm complaining about severe ear pain. Actually he called me and asked what to do and I told him to go to ER.
    His college is like 20 miles from Pittsburtgh PA. He went there and waited for 1hr and called me back asking what to do. At tha point I told him to come home. He was home at 11pm and we drove to the ER of the hospital close to home where needless to say, he was seen in 5 min. The doctor who saw him was amazed that he was able to drive, given the severity of his infection.
    My insurance paid the bill for this visit (the second hospital).

    Now I got the bill from the first one: $234… For what?

    I wouldn’t say “services” because all they did to him was to write down his name & address, stick a thermometer in his mouth and measure the blood pressure.

    There is no code for this type of activity so there is no price tag associated with it.

    If there was one it should be always be stated on the itemized bill, no matter if a person was seen or not by the doctor, isn’t it? Well, it isn’t. They why the hell are they charging me?

    And also, when you go to your doctor they tell you apfron that if you miss your appt you’ll be charged for the cost of the visit. In this case is understandable because you watsed the doctor’s time. But with the ER it is no stated anywhere that if you leave before beeing seen you’ll be charged the same fee as if you’ve spend your time talking to a lawyer ($234/hr for waiting? this is ridiculous!).

    What can I do to fight this? I don’t want to pay it and the bill is in his name and it’ll ruin his credit history.

    This is abuse.