Suzanne, San Diego
My husband had a heart attack and was treated and released from the hospital after two days. While the care he received was excellent, our experience with the billing department was not. His bills came to over $60,000. After five long months, we were able to get the bills slashed by 82% thanks to AB 774, the information on this website and our state representative.
The hospital actually denied any knowledge of the Fair Pricing Act and used scare tactics and threats to try to get us to pay the inflated amount. The moral of the story: get educated, know your rights and don't take no for an answer.
Kent, Huntington Beach
I lost my health coverage in 2006 and haven’t been able to find a job with health benefits since then. I’m still healthy and active but, at 62, I can’t afford the sky-high premiums for individual coverage.
In 2007 my doctor sent me to the ER because he thought I might be about to have a stroke or a heart attack. I spent several hours in Intensive Care and was kept overnight, then discharged. And then the bills started coming. I got six separate bills from the hospital, the Emergency Room doctors and other “ancillary providers,” for a total of $14,000. The doctors charged me three to four times more than an insurance company would have paid them for the same care. I don’t think it’s fair for ER doctors to charge people without insurance more than they charge everyone else.
Gabriel, San Diego
A few years ago my mom had to go to the emergency room for kidney stones. She was in poor health, had just lost my father, and had no health insurance. She was in the ER for four hours and her bills came to over $7000.
Now we know that the hospital and the ER doctors overcharged her by three or four times what an insurance company would have paid for the same care, just because she was uninsured, but we didn’t know that then.
My mom worked her whole life and paid her taxes, and she’s always been willing to pay her fair share. But it wasn’t fair to make her pay more than an insurance company would have.
I’m glad California has the Hospital Fair Pricing Act, and I hope they’ll stop overcharging by Emergency Room doctors, too.
In 2003, when I was fresh out of college and working as a personal trainer for a company that didn’t provide coverage, I bought an individual policy that was advertised as “catastrophic” coverage. It was all I could afford.
Then I got an inguinal hernia, and was in so much pain that my doctor sent me to the hospital for urgent surgery.
I was admitted and kept overnight, but the next morning they said my insurance wouldn’t cover the surgery and kicked me out of the hospital.
I continued to work for the next 4 months, in constant pain, and to negotiate with my insurance company, which eventually approved the surgery – or so I thought.
I finally had surgery that fixed the hernia, but it turned out that my insurance only paid $1000, so the hospital billed me for over $10,000. I tried to negotiate a reasonable payment schedule with the hospital, but they insisted on monthly payments of over $300/month. I couldn’t keep up those payments so they sent me to collections.
I have always been healthy and always had health insurance, but the one time I really needed insurance, it wasn't there when I needed it.
If you’re going to ask young people to buy health insurance, they have got to be able to trust that it will be there for them when they need it.