A 56-year-old English professor at Humboldt State University, from California, named Janet Winston had a very persistent rash that didn’t seem to want to go away. Winston has always been very sensitive to the various ingredients that are found in cosmetics and skin creams. Unfortunately, she was prescribed an antifungal cream that was going to be able to treat the persistent rash, which only made it worse.
After she got the initial rash, Winston knew that the local dermatologist was already booked for the next few months, so she decided to turn to Stanford Health Care, which was six hours away. While she was there, she had 119 small plastic containers taped all over her back for three days, so she could find out what exactly she was allergic to. And when the test was over, she found out that she’s allergic to gold, nickel, cobalt, Linalool (which is a compound from lavender and other plants), the cream that she got prescribed for her rash, the antibiotic Neomycin, a certain dye for clothes and a common cosmetic preservative.
The doctor at Stanford Health Care warned Winston that these extensive tests could end up being a bit expensive, but she replied that she wasn’t worried because her insurance had always been reliable. At least up until that point.
But when the bill came, the total was $48,329, even after her health insurance with Anthem Blue Cross paid $11,376.47 of the bill, she was charged $3,103.73, as 20 percent of her share.
So what happened?
It turns out that even though Winston didn’t need anesthesia and didn’t get a surgery, she was still billed for each allergen she was tested. And the price at Stanford Health Care was $399 per allergen. Which seems absolutely ridiculous, since even the charge for a single allergen test in the US in the most expensive area, which is the San Francisco Bay Area costs about $35.
The real reason for the high price was that some health providers set high prices on purpose, even though in the end they’ll receive a lot less money than previously stated. That’s because the patients end up having to negotiate the price to get a discount, but they still end up paying a lot. Which is how you can end up with $100 bill for some Aspirin. Which means that Stanford Health Care only charged such a high price, because they could.
In the end, after a lot of negotiating, Winston ended up having to pay $1,561.86, and if it wasn’t for her insurance, she would end up having to pay a much higher price.