This Guy's Bill Has Reddit Freaking out for a Very Good Reason

May 20th 2016

Kyle Jaeger

A $367,435.80 hospital bill made its way to the front page of Reddit on Friday, shocking users from countries outside the U.S. where the government provides free or heavily subsidized healthcare.

hospital bill

The Reddit user who submitted a photo of the bill said that his brother slipped during a rock climb, fell about 25 feet, and broke multiple bones. He spent a week in the hospital and racked up a hefty, six-figure charge.


In the comment section, some users cracked jokes — "It would cost you less to raise a new brother from scratch," the top comment reads — but the post also elicited a number of serious questions from puzzled outsiders.

"Forgive my Canadian-ism, but mind explaining to me what it is like going though such a process in the US and what you actually pay?" one user wrote. (Canada has a publicly funded healthcare system that offers a group of socialized insurance plans to all residents.)

comment on reddit post

"So, there is actually quite a bit that goes into it," he replied. "It depends on what insurance provider you have, and what plan you're on through them. Usually how it works is that the insurance covers a percentage of the bill, and the patient covers the rest."

Fortunately for the injured rock climber, he's 20 years old and is still covered under his parent's health insurance plan, which covered almost $200,000 of the total costs. The remaining $169,000 falls under the "negotiated fees" category, he wrote.

"It basically means, at least as far as I understand, that the insurance company has a max amount that they pay out for any given procedure. The hospital has to write the difference off. The $169k is that difference. I'm assuming the insurance provider sets this type of thing up in advance for situations like this. My brother will only end up paying about $1500. Like I said, my parents have pretty good insurance."

So while he received a bill for almost $370,000, he'll only have to pay the hospital about $1,500 out of pocket.

That might strike some users from outside the U.S. as odd. After all, the government negotiates with hospitals and drug companies so that patients pay the lowest cost for their medicine and treatment in countries such as Canada and England. In the U.S., the insurance companies do the negotiating, NPR reports. And if your insurance doesn't fully cover a procedure (or you don't have insurance in the first place), it's up to the individual to negotiate with billing and collection companies.

"As a German, I have never even seen a medical bill since they all immediately go through insurance," one user commented. "The American system is just so confusing to me."

Here's the thing: the hospital bill is far from the only healthcare cost the rock climbing brother will have to pay.


"This doesn't include the ambulance fees, paramedic fees, or fees that individual 'specialist' doctors might charge for any treatment they administered," the OP wrote. "Most of the time, there aren't any 'write offs' from those, and they might actually end up costing my brother more than this bill. I know the ambulance fee is around $5,000 alone."

"Needless to say, healthcare in America is pretty complicated," he added.

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