Our final Book Club meeting for “Never Pay the First Bill” by Marshall Allen is scheduled for this Friday. During this meeting, members will engage in a discussion focusing on the critical issues raised in the book, especially the alarming statistics concerning healthcare spending in the United States.

Quick Recap:

Why we should care

  • 1 out of 8 Americans owe $10,000 or more in medical debt.
  • About 40% said they COULD NOT pay off a $500 bill or would have to pay it over time.
  • Approximately 20% believe that they WON’T BE ABLE to pay off their medical debt.

The US spends 17.6 of its GDP on health care. That averages out to $8,233 per patient. That is two and half times as much than most other developed nations. The next closest nation is the Netherlands at 12%.

And what do we get for our money?

  • There are fewer physicians per person. (2.4 per person versus 3.1 in the other developed countries.
  • The number of hospital beds is 2.6 per 1000 population as compared to 3.4 beds.
  • The average American lives 78.7 years, one year less than the other developed countries.
  • US infant mortality rate is 5.12 per 1000 births. Higher than countries such as Bosnia, Latvia, Slovakia, Serbia, Hungary, Macau, Malta, Canada, Poland, Cuba, Taiwan, United Kingdom, Lithuania, Sweden, Norway, etc. etc. We rank 54th.

What can you do about it?

  • Don’t pay the first bill. Here is an inspiring story – Easy Money: Empowered Mom Saves $21K on a Bogus Medical Bill
  • Bring your own Stuff like BANDAIDS and aspirin!?
    • Did you know that we as patients get charged for everything the hospital staff scans before entering the room, whether they use it or not.  It reminds me of a time when young couples would go to the store before their wedding and be scan happy with the gun for their registry.
    • One of our providers on the Advize team who works in a hospital setting will check the room before scanning what they need to bring with them to go into the patient’s room. For instance if there are 30 gauze pads that are in the room unused and the nurse is about to go in, without looking to see what is currently in the room, the nurse could scan for an addition 20 or 30 pads and they were unnecessary to begin with.
    • One of our favorite fast reads: The case of the $629 Band-Aid — and what it reveals about American health care
  • Bring your own normal meds?
    • Although it takes the pharmacy more time to confirm and it is frowned upon, some patients do bring their own prescription meds.  Yes, the hospital staff must administer it and check to make sure the meds are the right meds, but it is a way that people are trying to cut their cost of their bill.

The punchline, if you bring your own stuff or refuse things while there, will you still be able to tell what was used or not?  It comes back down to the bill and how much time you want to take in reviewing it and fighting it.  We believe it is worth it so tell your family and friends to not pay the first bill.

By Jeanmarie Loria