Do your homework on healthcare costs - NBC12 - WWBT - Richmond, VA News On Your Side

Do your homework on healthcare costs; procedures vary by hospital

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) -

Healthcare does not come cheap, and to make matters more frustrating, the cost is different everywhere you go.

When frequent ear infections derailed little Amos McGrew, his parents arranged for ear tubes. When the problems persisted, Amos got ear tubes a second time.

When his parents opened the bill for the second procedure, their out-of-pocket expenses skyrocketed a stunning 433% in one year. The treatment was the same. So were the doctor, the insurance and the patient. The only difference was the hospital.

"We thought maybe, at that point, they had made a mistake," said Brandon McGrew, Amos' father.

There was no mistake. In June 2012, the first hospital billed $1,560  for Amos's ear tubes. A year later, the second hospital billed $5,260 for the identical procedure. The McGrew's share went from $239 to $1,274.

"That's just amazing to me. I cannot believe that," said Brandon McGrew.

Amos' mom Crystal called to complain. The hospital rep told her she should've done her homework.

"I mean, I guess looking back on it, I wish I had," said Crystal McGrew.

She could have contacted hospital billing departments to find out what they charge for a procedure. Federal law requires they tell you.

She then could compare those numbers to figures provided in websites, like newchoicehealth.com, which find the highest and lowest price you'll pay in Central Virginia. Many insurance carriers provide cost estimate tools on their websites as well.

"It varies. You might find one hospital that might be lower on putting tubes in a child's ear, yet they might be higher on a tonsillectomy," said medical cost consultant Briggs Cochran.

Crystal and Brandon are still paying off the bills from the second procedure, the unexpected costs hitting them like a runaway train.

"We were naive about it. We didn't have the information," said Brandon.

Ask your doctor if he or she operates anywhere else. If you have the choice of an outpatient center, chances are it will cost less.

Copyright 2014 WWBT NBC12. All rights reserved

  • More Bang for Your BuckMore Bang for Your BuckMore>>

  • Company that helps lower medical bills

    Company that helps lower medical bills

    Saturday, April 8 2017 9:04 AM EDT2017-04-08 13:04:53 GMT

    Adam Parsons is familiar with the medical field, so when he received a very expensive bill for a common procedure, he put Remedy into action.

    More >>

    Adam Parsons is familiar with the medical field, so when he received a very expensive bill for a common procedure, he put Remedy into action.

    More >>
  • Remedy fixes errors to lower medical bills

    Remedy fixes errors to lower medical bills

    Friday, March 31 2017 4:05 PM EDT2017-03-31 20:05:24 GMT
    Remedy helps people find ways to cut down their medical bills. (Source: pixabay.com)Remedy helps people find ways to cut down their medical bills. (Source: pixabay.com)

    If you've ever gotten a medical bill and thought it was too much - you may have been right!

    More >>

    If you've ever gotten a medical bill and thought it was too much - you may have been right!

    More >>
  • Banks cracking down on 'churning' credit cards for points

    Banks cracking down on 'churning' credit cards for points

    Friday, March 24 2017 2:17 PM EDT2017-03-24 18:17:50 GMT
    The practice of opening a card just for the bonus and canceling it is getting more difficult. (Source: NPN via Raycom News Network)The practice of opening a card just for the bonus and canceling it is getting more difficult. (Source: NPN via Raycom News Network)

    Consumers apply for credit cards specifically for large sign-up bonuses like cash, points or miles, and once those bonuses have been earned, that card is abandoned and it's on to the next one.

    More >>

    Consumers apply for credit cards specifically for large sign-up bonuses like cash, points or miles, and once those bonuses have been earned, that card is abandoned and it's on to the next one.

    More >>
Powered by Frankly