3. An especially bonkers hospital bill
The uproar over surprise hospital bills usually revolves around cases in which a patient goes to an in-network hospital but is seen by an out-of-network doctor.
Vox’s Sarah Kliff takes it to another level, though, with a story on Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital, which does not accept any private insurance — leaving insured patients with staggering and unexpected bills.
Details: Zuckerberg — named for Mark Zuckerberg after he made a $75 million donation — is a public hospital, and San Francisco's premier trauma center.
- The city of San Francisco sets the hospital's prices, which sure seem high, but the city didn't force Zuckerberg's ER not to take any private insurance.
What they're saying: The hospital told Vox that this is a common arrangement, necessary to subsidize care for the uninsured and Medicaid beneficiaries.
- But it is not common for an entire emergency department not to accept insurance, or for consumers to get a surprise bill — in this case, for more than $20,000 — because the ER itself was out-of-network.
Why it matters: This is an extreme example of a well-established problem: It's impossible to look up your provider network when you're having a medical emergency.
- It's the emergency room where patients are especially likely to end up on the hook for thousands of dollars, even with insurance, all thanks to contract disputes among doctors, hospitals and insurers that patients couldn't care less about.