all marked up
wednesday, january 6, 2010
do cottage hospital's charges make sense?
by faith ozan
my 24-year-old son was a patient at santa barbara cottage hospital last winter and received great care. he had complications from a dental infection and after emergency-room visits recommended by his dentist, a tooth was pulled and my son was admitted to the hospital for two nights for intravenous antibiotics. thankfully, the staff and the medicine got things under control and my son was fine. it's the bill, now, that's the problem.
i was surprised to learn from a collection agency statement that santa barbara cottage hospital marks up the cost of common antibiotics by almost 3,000 percent, and also that they defend the charges. this is an issue for us because the main reason my son was in the hospital was for antibiotics, and because the blue shield of california policy we buy requires he pay 30 percent of approved costs after deductible....
...i found that one unit of ampicillin/sulbactam, for example, cost the hospital $10, but they charged my son $378; eight units cost the hospital $80, but they charged $3,024 for it. or a one-gram vancomycin injection costs the hospital $9.75 per unit, and they charged my son $387. five shots cost the hospital $48.75, but they charged my son $1,935. same with moxifloxacin iv, 400 mg: it costs the hospital $43.75, but they charge the patient $557. all together, the total hospital cost for medication for my son's entire stay (according to the abx guide) was $187.54, and the total santa barbara cottage hospital charged my son was $5,625. these are all very common antibiotics, and the markup was 2,999 percent...