It's been three weeks since Emma's cheek was glued shut and two since I learned the cost. An itemized bill indicated we were charged $190 for this:
Dermabond Topical Skin Adhesive
The cost for its correct application was $495 in addition to a $145 charge for the facility. This does not include an additional $42 charge for wound cleaning supplies — gauze and an anticeptic cleanser. The care was prompt and courteous and the wound has healed without complication, but a $836 grand total was and still is a bit hard to swallow.
I decided to do some investigating to determine how much Dermabond sterile skin adhesive might cost. The most expensive I could find online was $480 for a 12-pack, or approximately $40 per unit. The cheapest was $22 per unit. This prompted me to call the hospital administration to pose the question, "Why?"
Here's what I understood from my conversation with OSF St. Francis:
- Virtually no one pays the original list price. Insurance companies, Medicare and Medicaid all demand discounted rates and, thanks to a recent Illinois law, even the uninsured cannot be charged more than 35% above cost.
- Insurance companies want to be able to offer discounted rates to their clients. They aren't interested in lowering the original charges.
- If discounts were not demanded or expected, the hospital fees could be reduced by up to 50%.
Interesting, isn't it? Ultimately, after discounts and insurance, our family will be out-of-pocket $74 for the procedure. One might argue that's reasonable. I suppose. But what worries me is the inherent deception: price gauging to give the false impression of discounted rates. It's a sticky situation, and I'm not talking Dermabond.
Did you miss Outraged Part 1? Read it here.