The doctor didn’t show up, but the hospital ER still billed $1,012

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      If you have a relatively low-level issue, think twice before even registering at the front desk — the act that initiates the billing process. If your doctor doesn’t have same-day appointments or after-hours service, think about urgent care, which is often much cheaper if the center isn’t attached to a hospital.

      And remember that if you go to a hospital emergency room with a relatively minor issue, chances are that you’ll have to wait, as the Bhatts did. Patients with more serious problems will be seen first. Once you’re taken past the front desk, you will almost certainly be hit with a substantial facility fee even if you don’t receive care.

      Appealing that fee to the hospital can occasionally be successful, but there are no guarantees. And, as Dhaval Bhatt learned, don’t expect the health insurer to offer much help. Most insurers won’t challenge how a medical visit is coded except on extremely expensive medical claims that will cost them money.

      In this case, Bhatt was on the hook for the whole fee because he had a high-deductible plan, so the insurer had little incentive to take up his cause. For now, patients’ best hope, many advocates believe, is to publicize the high prices that hospitals charge for their services, inside and outside the emergency room.

      Jesus: Hey, Dad? God: Yes, Son? Jesus: Western civilization followed me home. Can I keep it? God: Certainly not! And put it down this minute--you don't know where it's been! Tom Robbins in Another Roadside Attraction

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