E.R. Ticket Shock: Folks question 'outrageous' hospital bills

- Patients are calling it an Emergency Room rip-off and they’re speaking out.

“Yes, $1,244.85,” Steve Komito said.

Komito said his son went to the Carolinas Healthcare System Waxhaw E.R. for an elbow injury. When the bill came back there were a number of charges including $1,244.85 for the room they waited in prior to getting x-rays.

RelatedFather shrieks at emergency room "waiting bill"

“He got his blood pressure done, they gave him a Motrin, they took his temperature,” he said.

Komito said he was not told costs up front and said the E.R. will not tell patients costs ahead of time because it might convince patients to go elsewhere and the hospital will be held liable for letting the patient leave without care.

Advocacy group, Consumer Watchdog, said hospitals can’t do this.

“I am shocked to hear any hospital would refuse to tell a patient the costs of a treatment,” they said.

Just hours after FOX 46 Charlotte’s story aired, viewers were messaging in. Frank in Union County wrote, “Hey there, guess what? The story you did about the E.R. visit, they did the same to me! I pay $1,000 in premiums per month then get a royal E.R. screwing. $1,500 with just $1,200 for signing in.”

Ingrid on Facebook said her daughter had the flu and went to the Waxhaw E.R. She was billed that same $1,244 room fee plus an additional $550.

“For the privilege of sitting on a stretcher for an hour, you’re out more than a mortgage payment.”

Komito’s son went to the E.R. for a possible broken bone following a football injury. Therese in Huntersville shared a similar story, emailing in, “We were also charged $1,244.85 for a specialty E.R. room. We also just sat there for two hours waiting to be X-rayed.”

So why not go to Urgent Care? This same viewer told FOX 46 Charlotte, “I did call the CMC Urgent Care beforehand and they recommended going to CMC ER.”

One National Advocacy Group said there’s at least one question to ask.

“Should hospitals be telling patients upfront, here’s the financial cost you’ll be seeing? Yes, they should, but of course, they have very little incentive to do that because the prices are so high and consumers will raise questions.”

When FOX 46 Charlotte first reported this story on Monday the station contacted CMC for a response. The station received a statement basically refusing to answer due to patient confidentially laws – but the station wasn’t asking for patient information – it was asking for policy information.

FOX 46 Charlotte reached out again with a lengthy email asking several specific questions about hospital charges, billing policies, patient rights and more. The station received an email back from Kevin McCarthy with CMC Media Relations stating, “Got it.”

If you would like to share with FOX 46 Charlotte your experience with CMC or other hospitals please email newstips@fox46charlotte.com

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