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Medical price gouging: How to battle your bill

How To Battle Your Bill
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WZTV) - Can you think of just one time you have received medical care or a prescription lately and felt the price was fair? Americans spend more on health care than any other country in the world.

Wading through these bills trying to figure out why you got charged $80 for an aspirin can be exhausting.

FOX 17 News met with Kate Raidt while she was on hold with her doctor’s office. Like thousands of other Americans, she’s battling her bill.

Raidt's phone conversation with the clinic got heated.

“You're not answering the question. The question I have is, the bill is $303 dollars," Raidt said in a phone conversation. "What exactly does that entail?”

$303 dollars she says for a five minute new patient visit.

“You didn't take any blood work, didn't take a urine sample, nothing. Didn't even take my temperature. So, what is entailed in that 303 dollars,” Raidt questioned on the phone.

The attendant on the other end of the line answered, “It's coded as an office outpatient new visit.”

Raidt ended up hanging up the phone in frustration.

"You get nowhere," Raidt remarked.

As Raidt works on math homework with her children, she said school math may add up, but medical math does not.

$303 for five minutes amounts to $3,600 an hour.

“If this is what it costs me when I'm healthy, what in the world are they going to charge me when I'm sick,” Raidt questioned.

The Institute of Health finds some hospitals set charges 10 times higher than their actual cost. No wonder medical bills are blamed for the majority of bankruptcies.

The U.S. spends twice as much on health care per patient than any other country. Case in point Nexium, a heartburn medicine. The pharmacy wanted to charge Raidt $600 for this prescription. The same medicine is available over the counter for $10.

We have to comparison shop Money Specialist Cameron Huddleston said.

“There was another clinic in town that did chest X-Rays for about $55 per X-Ray," Huddleston said. "So, we paid about $270 to $290 for each X-Ray. So, we paid about five times more than what we should have.”

Just like the Kelley Blue Book for cars, there’s a Health Care Bluebook too.

“If your doctor says you should go to hospital, A, get online and find out if hospital B or clinic C has a better price,” Huddleston explained.

Here, she said you will see what's considered a fair price and which provider is offering it. Make sure to enter the exact medical code which you can get from your doctor.

“It's not like if you log onto Amazon or Best Buy or Target to find the price of the TV you're looking for," Huddleston said. "Most hospitals are not going to have the list of every procedure they provide on their websites.”

However, Senator-elect Marsha Blackburn says that too could be changing. She's pledging to work on it saying, “What we need to do is provide transparency because right now nobody knows what it costs.”

In the meantime, stand your ground on medical price gouging and do your homework.

“These people are not getting my money until they can tell me exactly what the $303 is for,” Raidt said.

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Some countries set caps on what clinics and hospitals can charge for services and the prices are listed. Raidt has had medical care in Germany where everything is transparent, and she thinks that's what the United States needs as well.

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