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We all know going to the emergency room will cost you big time, but a Northern California woman is facing serious sticker shock after seeing the breakdown of costs after a recent trip to the hospital.
The most expensive part of the bill wasn’t even the surgery but rather a tetanus shot. Kate Spurry of Truckee injured her foot as she was getting ready to go white-water rafting in the American River.
“Literally as we were packing the boats up the trailer fell on my foot so I didn’t ever even get in the water,” Spurry said. “I had broken my foot and there was a bone sticking out. It was pretty obvious I needed the nearest ER.”
Spurry said her friends and family rushed her to Marshall Medical Center in Placerville where she underwent surgery. There, she said she received great care as they stitched her up, and gave her antibiotics and a tetanus shot before sending her on her way with some crutches and a cast.
That is when the headache started.
Spurry showed KCRA 3 Investigates’ Brittany Johnson a copy of her Medical Explanation of Benefits from her insurance company, which stated the cost of her tetanus shot was $2,180.63.
Spurry said she was “flabbergasted” when she opened up her bill.
Her insurance, under UnitedHealthcare, said it would cover some of the costs but noted that Spurry was responsible for $1,251.89.
“It was more than the actual procedure,” Spurry said. “The actual procedure, which you can see here says surgery, is actually — I felt like that was a pretty good deal — that was a little over $1,300. So why would a shot that took about 10 seconds to administer, be twice that of a procedure that took well over an hour?”
In shock, Spurry said she called the hospital several times to try and make sure her bill was correct.
“The gal that I spoke to said, ‘Nope, that’s correct. Emergency care is always more expensive.'”
At her wit’s end, Spurry contacted us for help.
We called around to various pharmacies to inquire about the cost of a tetanus shot before insurance and found the cost was anywhere from $60-$80.
KCRA 3 sent Spurry’s information to Marshall Medical Center, along with a series of questions.
After our inquiries, the hospital said “A $2,000 tetanus shot is not acceptable,” and it is now reviewing its pricing approach for all medications.
We received the following statement from Siri Nelson, President & CEO, Marshall Medical Center:
We also reached out to Spurry’s insurance to get to the bottom of the charge. Late Wednesday afternoon, a spokesperson from UnitedHealthcare said it “reprocessed the claim and she owed $0 for the tetanus shot under her plan,” which means, according to the spokesperson, Spurry will not have to pay anything for the tetanus shot.
If people do get a surprise medical bill, UnitedHealthcare recommends the following:
Again, Spurry did all of these things and even spoke with a financial counselor at the hospital who opened up a claim.
“I don’t know what the outcome here is going to be. I’m not sure if what I’m doing is going to be effective,” Spurry said. “But certainly, ask questions. Call the insurance company, ask questions, call the hospital, ask them questions.”
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