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Patient Posts $55k Hospital Appendectomy Bill to Reddit

December 28, 2013

Appendectomy bill posted on Reddit.

By: Gilbert Falso :: 7:36 PM

In October, Reddit user zcypher had an appendectomy at Sutter General Hospital in Sacramento, California. The final bill for the procedure and his hospital stay came to over $55,000, and although a large portion of that amount was covered by his family’s insurance plan, he was still left with an $11,000 charge.

Last night, he posted a copy of the bill to Reddit, where it quickly shot to the front page, receiving over 10,000 comments, and 230,000 views of the bill overnight.

“I never truly understood how much healthcare in the US costs until I got appendicitis in October,” he wrote. “I’m a 20 year old guy. Thought other people should see this to get a real idea of how much an unpreventable illness costs in the US.”

The thread quickly filled with stories of other high medical bills that Redditors had received, as well as general negative comments about the state of healthcare in the United States.

A number of Redditors are also urging zcypher to fight the charges with the hospital, to see if he can get them reduced or eliminated entirely. Redditor 13special wrote:

First, the hospital is obviously charging you too much. Healthcare Blue Book has an appendectomy at $10,092 (far short of the 55k that they are trying to charge you). AETNA negotiated for the whole thing down to $17,581 but if you hassle the hospital you might be able to get closer to the $10,092 that it should cost.

Sutter General Hospital is part of the Sutter Health system in Northern California, and Sutter Health has faced scrutiny lately for anti-competitive practices, including high charges for inpatient services.  An antitrust class action lawsuit filed against the system last year, and dismissed by a judge earlier this year, has been reopened recently.

Earlier this month, the Sutter system was the subject of a New York Times article about the rising cost of healthcare procedures and supplies.  The article cites research done by the California Nurse’s Association that shows prices at Sutter’s hospitals are 40 to 70 percent higher than competing hospitals for similar services.

According to Sutter Health spokesperson Gary Zavoral, the charges shown on the bill are an accurate representation of the costs for an emergency appendectomy procedure.

However, Zavoral notes that, “discounts or considerations can be made on an individual basis,” and recommends that patients work with hospital system’s patient advocates to address issues like these.

“There is a lot of availability when it comes to those with limited finances,” said Zavoral.

While he doesn’t believe this is the first time one of his hospital’s bills has been shared on social media, Zavoral referred to the number of hits that the image received as “amazing.”

“It shows the power of Reddit, this might just be the beginning of people sharing things like this around,” he said.

Zavoral said he would work with the hospital’s billing department to reach out to the Reddit user regarding his charges.

  • Franklin T.

    Good idea – more people should share their hospital bills like this, so others can be aware of the high costs associated with medical care in this country.