Cost of medication as an inpatient is SHOCKING!!! - page 3

I had a patient who wanted something for her headache. I offered her the Tylenol the doctor had ordered for her to take on a prn schedule. She told me she was hospitalized many times before, and... Read More

  1. by   P_RN
    I got sent to the ER once after pulling a groin muscle. The doc checked me out and said to the nurse "give her a Motrin." I said "don't bother, I have Motrin here in my pocket." I took my motrin and went on my way. It was worker's comp, but I got an itemized bill also, and right there was a charge for ONE 800MG MOTRIN. It didn't cost them a cent or did it. Wonder how much that one Motrin cost by the time the insurance claim was settled.
  2. by   jjjoy
    Isn't the premise that nurses (and other ancillary staff) are like the factory workers while the hospitals and doctors are the owners and engineers? The hospitals (owners) provide the materials and facilities that require lots of financial investment and the doctors (engineers) provide the know-how and determine the best way to meet the owners' goals (here to make money from providing medical services - or at least to be able to cover costs to continue providing such services). The nurses (factory workers) tend to be considered as interchangeable and relatively easy to train.

    The original idea does seem to make sense in the traditional capitalist system. However, there are real problems with this idea.

    1) Nurses and other nursing staff cannot all be lumped together as interchangeable factory workers. Basic tasks can be taught and carried out routinely on stable patients and these workers don't demand high salaries - aides, techs, etc. But we run into trouble trying to determine how to assign tasks to different job roles while still providing quality care and being financially sound - which tasks can be assigned the "factory worker" and which tasks require more extensive education. With sicker patients and busier doctors, nurses need more than basic skills - they regularly need to exercise judgement on unique individual patients as opposed to working with standard equipment.

    2) Healthcare is unique. Ethical issues abound as do regulations; providers don't have so much choice over what services to provide and how to provide them. In industry, if a product line isn't turning a profit they can eat their losses and try something else. If industry makes a substandard product, they simply lose out on the profit. If a healthcare facility offers substandard care, people's very lives are affected. Yet, if the facilities cannot recoup expenses, they can't continue to provide service - no matter how great the service. Sicker patients also need a lower patient-nurse ratio yet don't seem to provide a proportional monetary return.

    What to do? I don't have any easy answers. I don't have any answers, really, but I do want to learn more so that I can where I fit into influencing the future of healthcare.
  3. by   ainz
    great post jjjoy!!

    There are real problems with this model/idea!! You are exactly correct. The problems you mentioned are absolutely correct.

    The way the charge and payment structures are set up in healthcare is the way it is set up. Like it or not, right or wrong, it is the system we are working in, the environment we are working in, we need to understand it so that we can begin to generate ideas to change it.

    I do not write stuff like this because I am for it or like it, I write it because it is our reality, whether we like it or whether we think our patients will like it or whatever.

    Nurses need to understand the environment we are working in, the people who are running healthcare, and how to effective communicate our ideas to advance our profession. We can stick our head in the sand and issue statements of morality, lack of integrity, and so on 'til the cows come home. That will never change a thing, it will only keep things as they are and nurses will continue to leave the profession.
  4. by   flowerchild
    Here's an idea! Get all your patients to refuse non essential items and complete their questionaires with references to the high costs of individual items and as the reason they refused b/c of high cost. The hospital will see a decrease in billing and reimbursement revenues for private payors and insurance on those items. Then, we nurses can solve the problem by charging fee for service to allow for billing that reflects a seperation of costs for the nursing services, thus reducing the cost of each pill or item to the pateint and allowing the patient to see exactly where the $$ is applied. Things like utilities, maintnance, and housekeeping should be kept in the room charge fee, same as a hotel or rental and not part of the cost of a Tylenol or the nursing. JMO. You know, the hospitals could even charge rental on the equipment being used by the patient. Don't let them fool you, they know exactly what they are doing when they roll all those things into the cost of a Tylenol
    I know, I know, I can dream though, can't I?
  5. by   live4today
    Better yet, let the patients be responsible for bringing their own linen, bath towels/face cloths, pajamas and over the counter meds to the hospital with them. If they are on scheduled meds at home, let them bring them, too. When they run out, let them get refilled at their chosen pharmacy.

    Patients take their own meds where I work at times. They bring the meds, and the nurses pass them out when they are due by keeping them locked until scheduled or needed prn.

    To cut out the hospital linen bill, patient's family can take their dirty linen home, and bring them clean linen as they need it.

    For that matter, let the family be responsible for the trash can by the patients bedside, too. Like taking it to a central dumping place in the hospital once or twice a day when it is full.

    That would cut out a lot of revenue for the hospital where the TRUE FOCUS can REALLY be about NURSES HELPING PATIENTS and PATIENT CARE. Isn't that what they boast about anyway...patient care???
  6. by   ainz
    Great idea flowerchild. Separate out nursing and bill nursing care on a fee-for-service basis, just like the doctors get paid. Now that is a step toward professionalism. It also takes away the power the hospital has over nurses.

    Don't you see, this way nurses are not an expense to the hospital, they are necessary and cost the hospital nothing!!!
  7. by   BuffaloLPN
    How does billing work if we aren't scanning or listing items used? On my floor, we just go into supply room and use whatever. If a nurse uses one or fifteen pulse ox probes on a pt it's not recorded anywhere, so how would that affect pt billing? I'd assume that comes out of our 'floor budget'?
    Just a rant here- this billing issue is make me so mad when we keep pts who don't
    need to be hospitalized, but are anyway. I like to think of us a VERY VERY expensive hotel-happens all the time
  8. by   ainz
    Can't imagine anyone doing that these days, just taking supplies and not charging for them. At any rate, in a DRG or per diem situation, it really doesn't matter. The hospital is paid on fee for the hospitalization regardless of the number and type of supplies, procedures, tests, number of days in the hospital, etc. It is all in how the diagnosis is coded and that depends on how well the doctors and nurses document. Putting it all together in one fee paid to the hospital is called "bundling," meaning all of this stuff is bundled together in one package. It is illegal to unbundle charges for Medicare patients for example.

    However as the federal government continues to spend more on healthcare through the Medicare program and supplementing or matching the states' Medicaid program, we will see more and more copay required from the recipients.

    Hospitals are the absolute worst business I have ever seen in getting their customers' bill correct, all the way from charging for items used and the correct number to charging the correct dollar amount. The systems and processes used are awful. The automated medication dispensing systems help and the supply towers. If hospitals invested in a system that works well they would not lose so much revenue from pure waste and inefficiency. Nurses have a responsibility in this as well by making sure they charge for the supplies they use and use them efficiently.

    If we claim to have a holistic approach to human health, what good are we doing for someone who is hospitalized when we get them better but then contribute to devastating them with a huge hospital bill they will be paying on for the next 20 years. What kind of effect do you think that has on their life, their family, their ability to "self-actualize?"
  9. by   ?burntout
    saw this and had to share:

    my best friend had a vaginal delivery in december. in the 2 days she was there, she took 8 vicodin due to a deep perineal laceration....and her grand total for those 8 vicodin was....

    i kid you not.......
  10. by   debyan
    My husband has recently had some lab-work done they are checking out his PSA d/t prostatitis well when the bill came back from Blue Cross Blue Shield the charge from the lab was $385.04 BC-BS paid them $70.81 which was the eligible amt for those tests. Now get this, which the provider accepted as payment in full!! OK now I am not complaining I can't afford to, but what if I didn't have the insurance? I mean would they have accepted less than 1/4 the amt charged. The same thing happened with my bill for my heart procedure BC-BS paid them about 1/5 of what the bill was and they accepted it. Am I just stupid or would some poor uninsured person be totally out of luck. This has to be the same with the Tylenol they charged the $25.00 knowing that the insurance would only pay a small amount of the bill anyway. Seeing the amazing difference in the amounts charged and what the hospitals actually get, well it confuses me. I could never balance my checkbook that way. deb
  11. by   RN auditor
    I would highly recommend my parents go North of the Border for their medications. I think it is ridiculous the amount of time and money that must go into the FDA certifying medications. I heard that it sometimes takes years just to get one medication approved. Beaurocracy is what is raising the cost of medication and care. No wonder people are going to other countries for meds and care.
  12. by   healingtouchRN
    I really considered it when I was south of the border last year. Meds we soooo cheap. but I questioned 1) was it really what it says it is, 2) it is quality? Fearful of being poisoned or having some limb just fall off, I just bought my usual Vanilla by the quartfuls (best in the world) & some t-shirts... It just erks me that my same birthcontrol pills I bought in the 80's are triple the cost, for 21 little tabs, I don't even use the placebos, I can count, thanks. Almost 40 bucks, unreal!!! okay off the box again.
  13. by   flowerchild
    Yes, the hospitals expect the private payors to pay the full amount since it is not prenegotiated. SOL. A private payor may offer a settlement on the account and it will probably be accepted but then it will show up on the persons credit report. They don't expect private payors to ante up so they charge the high amounts for their own benefit. This way they can write it off as a loss, decreasing their tax burden. I can't beleive the way the hospitals get away with what they do. AND, I hate the way they cry poor mouth to the nurses and staff all while some few at the top are padding their pockets, but that's another subject.