10 wildly overinflated hospital costs you didn’t know about

Why exactly are our medical bills so high?

Investigative journalist Steven Brill explored this in a recent, hot-button Time magazine cover story. After spending seven months analyzing hundreds of bills from hospitals, doctors, drug companies, and medical equipment manufacturers, he discovered that health care costs are largely arbitrary, inflated, and unfair. “The healthcare market is not a market at all. It’s a crapshoot,” he concluded. “Everyone fares differently based on circumstances they can neither control nor predict.”

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10 wildly overinflated hospital expenses
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10 wildly overinflated hospital expenses

Tylenol

Charge to patient: $15 per individual pill, for a total of $345 during average patient stay

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Patient belonging bag

Like a grocery bag, to hold your personal items.

Charge to patient: $8

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Box of tissues

Sometimes listed as “mucus recovery system,” a single tissue box in a hospital costs $8.

Charge to patient: $8

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Gloves

Charge to patient: $53 per non-sterile pair (sterile are higher), for a total of $5,141 during average patient stay.

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Cup medicine

Cost is for the plastic cup used to administer medicine, not the actual medicine inside it.

Charge to patient, per cup: $10, for a total of $440 during average patient stay

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Marking pen

To mark the body for surgery.

Charge to patient: $17.50

Blood pressure cuff

Use of blood pressure cuff in a hospital costs about $20.

Charge to patient: $20

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Oral administration fee

Charge for a nurse to hand you medicine taken by mouth.

Charge to patient: $6.25 per instance, for a total of $87.50 during average patient stay

Headlight

Cost of use of the overhead light in an operating room.

Charge to patient: $93.50

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Swabs, alcohol

Charge to patient: $23 per swab, for a total of $322 during average patient stay

Luckily, though, you don't just have to helplessly accept these high hospital costs. Check out these tips to help lower your hospital costs.

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In our own investigation last year, Reader’s Digest learned that it pays to try to get to the bottom of your medical bills, because they’re subject to more errors and overcharges than you might think. Here, Pat Palmer, founder of Medical Billing Advocates of America, a group that helps patients handle medical bills, reveals examples of ridiculous overcharges on a patient’s itemized bill (which you usually need to ask for—and review with a fine-toothed comb). Learn some more secrets hospitals won’t tell you.

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US News: Best Hospitals in the US 2017
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US News: Best Hospitals in the US 2017

20. Mayo Clinic Phoenix

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19. NYU Langone Medical Center, New York

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18. Mount Sinai Hospital, New York

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17. Duke University Hospital, Durham, North Carolina

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16. Thomas Jefferson University Hospitals, Philadelphia

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15. University of Colorado Hospital, Aurora

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14. UPMC Presbyterian Shadyside, Pittsburgh

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13. Northwestern Memorial Hospital, Chicago

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12. Barnes-Jewish Hospital, St. Louis

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11. Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Los Angeles

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10. Hospitals of the University of Pennsylvania-Penn Presbyterian, Philadelphia

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9. Stanford Health Care-Stanford Hospital, Stanford, California

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8. New York-Presbyterian Hospital, New York

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7. Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, Los Angeles

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6. University of Michigan Hospitals and Health Centers, Ann Arbor

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5. UCSF Medical Center, San Francisco

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4. Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston

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3. Johns Hopkins Hospital, Baltimore

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2. Cleveland Clinic

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1. Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota

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