$400 Per Stitch Hospital Bill Upsets New London, Ct Consumer

When Frank McLaughlin cut his hand accidentally following a St. Patrick’s Day parade, the wound hurt.

But a bigger shock came when he received the bill from Lawrence & Memorial Hospital’s New London emergency room for $4,052 for 10 stitches – five temporary and five regular – coming to more than $400 a stitch.

Luckily for McLaughlin of New London, he has health insurance, and he only had to pay $65 out of his pocket. His friends told him not to get worked up since his out of pocket payment was minimal.  McLaughlin said someone needed to complain about sky-high health costs, which we all have to pay for one way or another.

Frank holding the banner

“I’m reminded of Government purchasing such  that hammers really cost $100. … and  the $600 toilet seat or the $3000 coffee maker,” he told me after getting the bills. “These numbers are just too high. I am a fiscal conservative. All these systems are too expensive, just insane far too expensive.”

McLaughlin says he received excellent care in the emergency room and his only gripe is about the incredibly high cost of health care.

And what about those who don’t have insurance, he asks?

Very good question.

Unfortunately the hospital had no response to McLaughlin’s complaint, even though they had five days.

McClaughlin said he cut his hand between his thumb and first finger when removing  a zip tie used to attach a piece of wood to a banner he was carrying during the parade.

“It was deep, could not stop the bleeding,” he told me.

He went to the emergency room where his hand was wrapped so he would not bleed on the floor. He was then given five temporary stitches to stop the bleeding as he had cut a blood vessel. He was given five permanent stitches. He spent about three hours in the emergency room of which about one hour was spent on treating him.

He returned a few days later because the cut got infected.

It was then that he received his bill:

before stitches

Charge of $4,052, but since his insurance company had negotiated a lower rate, the bill was reduced to $3,262 and his amount was $65 extra.

For his second visit to clear up his infection, McLaughlin was charged $380 of which was reduced by $227 because of the negotiated rate, and he again had to pay $65.

There will of course be an additional charge when he has the five permanent stitches removed.

Now someone without insurance would have had to pay the complete bills of $4,052 and $380, since there are no negotiated rates for the non-insured.

This is not just at Lawrence & Memorial, it happens with every hospital, clinic, psychologist, drug store, and dentist that accepts insurance.

The difference between the negotiated insurance rates and what the non-insurance patients pay can be huge, much larger than in this case.

What happens is that the health system tries to make the non-insured pay the difference between what the real charges the health professionals want and the amount that insurance companies are willing to pay.

It is no wonder that most people who are in bankruptcy court are there not because they charged too many toys on their credit cards, it’s because they got whacked by huge medical bills they could not afford. If you can’t afford insurance, you probably can’t afford full-priced health care.

“It’s just not fair,” McLaughlin said and I agree.

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8 Comments on "$400 Per Stitch Hospital Bill Upsets New London, Ct Consumer"

  1. Sandy Marshall | May 11, 2012 at 11:23 pm |

    I am permanently disabled, and my husband was laid off when he was 60. We had no insurance for four months, and 750.00 a month income until we retire. Within a week, I dislocated a tooth and could not go to the dentist. We ran out of heart medication, blood pressure medication, thyroid and other assorted meds that we needed. We could not go to the doctor and feared we would get sick enough to have to go to the hospital. We finally secured a 960.00 a month policy which is eating what remaining savings we have. Our physician for over 25 years even refused to treat us without insurance as did our dentist. They wanted cash before we could make an appointment. This is how many people in one of the richest states in the USA live. It’s sad.

  2. so THIS us how the hospital administrators can get paid over one million dollars !

  3. willy lump lump | May 12, 2012 at 9:16 am |

    Is Lawrence and Memorial’s CEO one of the CEOs making over amillion bucks a year???

  4. Bob Trotta | May 14, 2012 at 5:29 pm |

    SAD, SAD, SAD! WHERE/WHEN will it ever end?

  5. I agree that the CEO’s make way too much. However, the hospitals also have to pay for the following: Un-insured illegals, high mal-practice insurance, frivolous lawsuits, etc. So how do they make that up? By charging ins companies and regular middle class folks….

  6. Flo Dickie | May 15, 2012 at 11:30 pm |

    It is really sad that a country like the US has to charge so much to be take care of their people. I had 6 stitches when I was in Equador and they did it for free, even though I wasn’t a citizen of their country. I came back to the US and took them out myself. Free.

  7. Jim Barile | May 16, 2012 at 7:15 am |

    Recently had an abdominal MRI. Took 20 minutes and the bill was over $4,000. They accepted my Ins. Co. payment of just over $1,000 and my out of pocket was about $300. So…if they can accept what the Ins. Co. pays, why charge so much in the first place? Obamacare will fix it all though right?

  8. My 20 year old son had a minor motorcycle accident on his way to his $8 an hour job. He was told by the cop if he didn’t volunteer to go to the hospital he would baker act my son. That’s Florida speak for declare you mintally incompetent. He was taken to our fair lady of the saint joes for a 2 hour treatment. The hospital was told he had no insurance. They put 8 stitches in his elbow, covered some minor road rash and told him he must have a ct scan on his head even though he was wearing a helmet and didn’t hit his mellon. One week later we get the bill. Hospital = $12658.00! EMS ride less than 5 miles= $680.00! And I think I was stressed when I was 20 because I had a $1200 balance on my credit card!

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