I’m gradually getting convinced that the entire medical business is a scam. At my last visit to the doctor, at a practice affiliated with St. Joseph Hospital in Nashua, I got a flu shot and a pneumococcus shot, in addition to the normal cursory examination. Since then I’ve received a bill which informed me that those two jabs ran up a cost of $737, of which over $100 isn’t covered by insurance. Normal, honest businesses tell you before you spend sums in that range.
The description was very vague, with amounts for “professional services,” “vaccine,” and “pharmacy.” Nothing said which shot contributed to how much to the costs. I called the doctor’s office, which directed me to the central billing office, which directed me to the St. Joseph Hospital office. I called and had to leave my number because “all our agents are currently unavailable.” They didn’t call me back. I called an hour later and reached someone.
I found out that most of that amount was for the pneumococcus bill, but the flu shot was a significant chunk. What was really outrageous was that the $175 charge for “professional services” was for the same doctor visit that I supposedly just needed to pay a $15 copay for. Of course, it wasn’t even the doctor who gave me the shot. If it took five minutes to prepare and administer the two shots, they billed it at $2100 per hour.
After telling me about this outrage, the woman who answered asked if I wanted to pay immediately by credit card. When I said “No,” she said I’d get a call about the bill next week, even though I just received it a couple of days ago.
If you want to take a doctor to small claims court in New Hampshire, you need an expert witness. That insulates them from most claims. To dispute my bill, I’d have to spend more than I’d win.
Get your shots at the drugstore, not at the doctor’s office — and ask in advance what it will cost. At least you might get out with your skin, minus one tiny hole in it.
I used to donate to St. Joseph Hospital, thinking I was helping people who couldn’t afford treatment. No more.