Father shrieks at emergency room "waiting bill"

A father reached out to FOX 46 Charlotte with questions surrounding an emergency room bill he cannot believe.

Steve Komito said while taking his son to the Carolinas Healthcare System emergency room in Waxhaw for a minor elbow injury, his family was billed $1,244.85 just for the room portion of his visit. There was a nearly $400 charge for X-rays and several other examination charges.

"For the privilege of sitting on a stretcher for an hour, you're out more than a mortgage payment," Komito said.

Komito said the emergency room was closer than any urgent care he knew of. He said his son spent 90 percent of the nearly two-hour visit waiting in the room for X-ray results.

He's raised further concerns because he was not told the pricing beforehand and he said the E.R. told him it does not give pricing because it could sway people to choose against being seen, and the E.R. could be held liable for allowing them to leave without being treated.

CHS would not comment on this story due to patient privacy but said it will be investigating it and providing information to the patient.

"If you buy a car, or a television or an airplane ticket, you know what you're paying," Komito said. "Almost any other item that I can think of, you as the consumer know what you're paying. In this setting, you don't know."

Consumer Watchdog said it seeing more of these concerns nationwide.

"No one guesses when they walk into the E.R., if they sit and wait for the doctor to show up for two hours to tell them that all they need is an aspirin, that's they're going to be charged for that room," executive director Carmen Balber of Consumer Watchdog said. "So it's a real transparency problem."

Consumer Watchdog adding, it's not mandatory to give pricing ahead of time, but if you ask, the hospital is supposed to give it to you.

"Informed consumers just have to know to ask," Balber added. "Hospitals should be transparent, when asked directly, about the cost of care.

 

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