Ryan Edgerton cut his finger while in the kitchen. He was using a new knife on a melon. The cut was no more than two inches long, but Edgerton rushed to Bayonne Medical Center in Bayonne, N.J. He received “five or six” stitches and a $17,000 bill.
“There’s no reason a two-inch cut should have a five-figure bill,” Edgerton told WNBC. $2,833 a stitch, says the New York Daily News.
WNBC reports that the bill total stems from a dispute between Edgerton’s insurer, United Healthcare, and CarePoint Health, which owns the hospital.
United is an out-of-network provider for the hospital. CarePoint told WNBC that United fails to offer a fair in-network deal. Thus, Edgerton’s ER bill was a “survival strategy” for the hospital. A CarePoint spokesperson told WNBC that it has to charge these rates or risk going out of business.
“I don’t know that I believe that Bayonne hospital is really going to go out of business,” New Jersey Assemblyman Craig Coughlin to WNBC.
“Out-of-network hospitals should be charging rates that are consistent with other facilities in the community, rather than using the emergencies as an opportunity to bill patients excessive amounts and drive up the cost of health care,” Mary McElrath-Jones, a United spokeswoman, told WNBC.
Assemblyman Coughlin has sponsored a bill currently in the state legislature that would force doctors, hospitals, and insurance companies into arbitration over disputed out-of-network costs.
“You’re in distress. You may need a specialist who gets called in. You absolutely want the specialist. But you’re not going to ask ‘Are you in my network? Before you save my life, are you in my network?’” Couglin told WNBC.
A list of the 100 most expensive hospitals in America done last year put Bayonne Medical at number 6 with a charge-to-cost ratio of 1084 percent. The list was done by the Institute for Health and Socio-Economic policy in conjunction with National Nurses United.
United Healthcare suggested to WNBC that CarePoint charges 10 to 12 times higher than nearby hospitals in United’s network.
Edgerton has not yet paid his portion of the bill -- $1,170, or $195 per stitch.