One evening in May, while I was watching (and being put to sleep by) a Mets game, my girlfriend developed sharp, debilitating pains so severe that we had to take her to the emergency room. My girlfriend is prone to urinary tract infections, and we thought that’s what this was.
We arrived at Hoboken University Medical Center at 9:00 pm and waited behind three sets of people. The first had a headache and was given what I can only assume to be Ibuprofen and sent home. The next was told she had a stomach bug. She was out in ten minutes. The third, we later learned was addicted to pain killers and would in a rather uncreative and unconvincing manner, conjure new ailments every so often while subtly suggesting to the doctor what type of medication he thought would work best to treat him.
When we were finally seen by a doctor, she assured us that she would get to the root of the problem and a bombardment of tests were run. Some of these tests, I’m sure, were to make sure that it was, as we suggested, a urinary tract infection. It turned out that we were right and she was given strong antibiotics through an IV.
It was now close to midnight, I heard the Mets were losing 8-0, we had diagnosed the problem and I assumed after she was done with the IV they would prescribe some more antibiotics and we would be on our way, we were not.
The doctor recommended a CT scan and a few more IV treatments. They brought us to a room where we stayed until 4 am. Now, when I hear from a doctor that it’s time for a CT scan, I go along with it because I’m suddenly concerned there is a serious health problem at hand. I don’t think about cost. I should have.
Last week, my girlfriend received a bill for her seven-hour stay at the hospital. The total bill for the short stay was $16,448.40 – the cost of a 2012 Ford Fiesta. It was adjusted down to $12,724.21, 80 percent of which was picked up by Aetna (but only because she is 25 and still on her mother’s employer-sponsored coverage). My girlfriend owes the hospital $2,901.77. Her first monthly payment begins in August.