Here's What You Can Do to Lower Your
Hospital Bill Beforehand

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April 21, 2018

By Susan Callahan, Associate Editor and Featured Columnist

[Health and fitness articles are reviewed by Registered Nurses,
Certified fitness professionals and other members of our Editorial

As most people know, hospital stays are costly, even if you
have insurance. By one estimate from a 2013 Michigan
University study, the average American paid $1000 out of
pocket, despite having insurance, in 2013. That figure is up
37% .  If you end up only paying $1000 after a hospital
stay, count yourself very lucky. That "average" masks a lot
of differences between the worst cases and the lucky ones.

Among the unlucky pile of cases is a case of a woman who
was covered by MedicraeThe year is 1968, a pivotal year in
the history of America. Dr. Martin Luther King and Bobby
Kennedy were assassinated and the nation was gripped
with riots and fear. On a personal level, a young 43 year-
old Barbara Bush was in a hospital in Houston for a
procedure and s

Bring Your Aspirin to the Hospital

Hospitals are free to charge whatever they wish for
medicines that are not covered by your insurance plan,
whether that plan is Medicare or a private plan. Some
insurance companies, such as Medigap plans or other
private insurance plans such as ones you might have
through your employer, require hospitals to obtain your
consent before they charge you for services or drugs not
covered by your insurance.  However, traditional Medicare ,
and many other private insurance companies, do not
require hospitals to give you this heads-up.  As a result,
you can experience sticker shock when you get your final
hospital bill.

If your drugs are not covered by your plan, the hospital
could, fro example, charge you $18 for a single aspirin pill.
That's a typical charge.

What can you do to avoid this charge? In some cases, you
could bring your aspirin to the hospital before you are

Bringing medications such as aspirin to the hospital can cut
down your in-stay bill considerably.

But first, you have to do some homework. Check your
hospital's policies on allowing patients to bring medications
into the hospital. Some hospitals expressly disallow it.

Other hospitals, including world class prominent hospitals
such as the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer
Centers, do allow patients to bring in their own
medications, in some circumstances.

The Hospital's Policy Statement allows patients to bring in
their own medicines so long as they obey the following

The use of a patient’s own medication(s) is discouraged, as
the storage and handling prior to the hospitalization is
unknown. When patients bring medications into the
hospital the following are required before the medication
can be administered.

A. An order must be written by the physician or other  
authorized prescriber to use the patient’s own medication
(s). The order must also specify the medication, dose,
frequency, indication, and route.

B. All ordered medication that has been brought in must be
given to a pharmacist for identification. If the medication
cannot be identified, the medication may not be

C. Total Parenteral Nutrition (TPN) solutions, other
Parenteral   Infusions, Irrigation Solutions, and other
compounded products prepared outside M.D. Anderson are
not to be used. The existing hanging Parenteral Infusion or
Irrigation container with which the patient was admitted
may be completed.

D. Medications administered from the patient’s own supply  
shall be documented in the patient’s medical record."

You should find out your hospital's policy on bringing
medications beforehand. If there are several hospitals you
might be admitted to, then you simply have to take the time
to ask each one. It will be worth the effort.

What About Opened Medications?

Most hospitals that allow patients to bringing their own
medications require that you bring in a new, unopened
package.  Most don't allow opened  or partially used

So, if you have only used one pill out of your new blood
pressure medication, you're out of luck. You can't bring it
in. But it's cheaper to go out and buy a fresh bottle than to
wait to be charged by the hospital $25 on average for a
blood pressure lowering pill.

Bring Your Doctor's Prescription with You to the Hospital

Obviously, if you are under treatment for a medical
condition, you should bring your doctor's prescription for
any medication you are taking. You should then strictly
follow your target hospital's policy's about bringing in that
medication. In most cases, having a doctor's prescription
for the medication is required.

Prescription Drugs Are the Lion's Share of Most Hospital

In 2011, Chicagoan Gary Lucido wrote about his mother's
hospitalization for sepsis. His mother ended up staying in
the hospital for 48 days, running up a bill of $110,000. But
she was covered by Medicare, so she had nothing to worry
about, right? Wrong.

Of the total of $110,000, the hospital was forced to write
off $75,000 by Medicare as a "discount". His mother's
private insurance covered another $22000, Medicare itself
only paid $2300. The remaining $10,000 had to be paid by
the family. So much for 100% hospitalization coverage.

Gary listed the breakdown of the $110,000 bill, which
showed that his mother was charged $67,367.40 for
"pharmacy' during her stay. In other words, medications
and simple pharmacy supplies represented 61.2% of the
total bill.

Even if bringing in your own medications can cut out 10%
of this cost, it would shave thousands off your final bill.

Pharmacy prescriptions are a profit center for hospitals.
They pass on to you the costs of these $18 aspirins and a
myriad of other inflated medications prices in order to make
up for deficits they experience in other cost centers of the

Bu bringing in your own medications, you become in effect
your own pharmacy, competing with the hospital's in-
house pharmacy.

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