While vacationing in Las Vegas recently, my husband was admitted to the hospital for acute pancreatitis. He was almost readmitted to a local hospital for a heart attack when he received the bill in the mail. The following is a telephone conversation that took place regarding that bill:
Billing, Wanda speaking.
My name is Dean Welch. I’m calling about my hospital bill.
Wanda: We’re in the middle of remodeling. Pretty noisy. You’ll have to speak up.
Dean: I’m rather weak from my surgery but okay.
Wanda: I can’t wait until this construction is over. Our new employee nightclub called Anesthesia is gonna be fab.
Dean: I noticed construction going on while I was there. I figured maybe a cancer wing.
Wanda: We don’t need another one of those. So what can I do for you, Mr. Welch?
Dean: I can’t figure out how four days in the hospital amounts to $179,000.
Dean: Ridiculous, right?
Wanda: I was gonna say, you obviously got a discount.
Dean: Discount! Room and board alone is $50,000. My room didn’t even come close to Motel 6 standards. And board, let’s see I got fed … NOTHING except an IV drip. You’d think Wolfgang Puck catered gourmet IV’s to your hospital.
Wanda: Great idea! We tried to get him for our grand opening but he’s busy.
Dean: Whatever. Now, why am I being billed for three surgeries? I didn’t even have my gallbladder out there. I waited until I got home.
Wanda: Are you sure you didn’t have three surgeries? You said you were awful weak.
Dean: I know where I had my ONE surgery. You people prey on the uninsured, the…
Wanda: But I see you have insurance.
Dean: But I was outside my network therefore the insurance doesn’t cover…
Wanda: Never go outside the network.
Dean: But I was on vacation when I got sick.
Wanda: Probably should have waited until you got home to get sick.
Dean: Listen, I’m being charged for three surgeries I didn’t have, and six CT scans. I had one. And that was after Nurse Ratched put me in a headlock when I refused. I’m also being charged for a mammogram and two pap smears. Last time I checked I didn’t have any lady parts. And get this—a colon cleansing. I would have remembered that.
Wanda: I’m taking a psych course at the community college and I’ve learned that sometimes we block out unpleasant experiences. Like the time I accidentally flushed my cell phone down the toilet with unopened text messages. I still have to block it out.
Dean: I wish I could block the whole stay out. I was well enough to go home two days later but they refused to discharge me. They kept me a prisoner so they could inflate my bill. I was even charged $350 for a toothbrush.
Wanda: That $350 gets you two VIP passes to opening night of our Nightclub Anesthesia on January 22. Can I put you down?
Dean: I can’t believe this!
Wanda: I know. We’re the only hospital to have this amenity. They’re trying to get Lady Gaga for the opening.
Dean: Lady who? I’m sure all my pumped up charges are paying for your stupid nightclub.
Wanda: Let me see. No. But your roommate Mr. Swanson is paying for the disco ball and the private lounge. Your charges are paying for the Chief of Surgery’s divorce. Seems his wife took him for everything.
Dean: I’m paying for some Doctor’s divorce. You’re admitting these charges aren’t valid.
Wanda: They’re extremely valid. It’s called overhead. Necessities to help our business run better.
Dean: Since when are a divorce and a nightclub necessities?
Wanda: Obviously, you’ve never met Mrs. Chief of Surgery and Anesthesia is a welcome necessity to relieve the stress of the devoted men and women of this hospital.
Dean: I wish I had some anesthesia to get through this.
Wanda: If you attend our grand opening, you can pay $2000 to enter our private lounge, choose an anesthesiologist and how long you’d like to be knocked out. It’s our way of helping you forget your hospital bill for a little while.
Dean: I knew our health care system was screwed up but I didn’t realize how badly until now.
Wanda: That’s why we’re here, to help you through it.
Dean: I’m going to hang up now and flush this cell phone down the toilet. Then maybe I can block you out forever.