Hit with $7,146 for two hospital bills, a family sought health care in Mexico : Shots

Claudia and Jesús Fierro of Yuma, Ariz., review their medical bills. They pay $1,000 a month for health insurance yet still owed more than $7,000 after two episodes of care at the local hospital.

Lisa Hornak for Kaiser Health News


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Lisa Hornak for Kaiser Health News

Claudia and Jesús Fierro of Yuma, Ariz., review their medical bills. They pay $1,000 a month for health insurance yet still owed more than $7,000 after two episodes of care at the local hospital.

Lisa Hornak for Kaiser Health News

The Fierro family of Yuma, Ariz., had a string of bad medical luck that started in December 2020.

That’s when Jesús Fierro Sr. was admitted to the hospital with a serious case of COVID-19. He spent 18 days at Yuma Regional Medical Center, where he lost 60 pounds. He came home weak and dependent on an oxygen tank.

Then, in June 2021, his wife, Claudia Fierro, fainted while waiting for a table at the local Olive Garden restaurant. She felt dizzy one minute and was in an ambulance on her way to the same medical center the next. She was told her magnesium levels were low and was sent home within 24 hours.

The family has health insurance through Jesús Sr.’s job, but it didn’t protect the Fierros from owing thousands of dollars. So when their son Jesús Fierro Jr. dislocated his shoulder, the Fierros — who hadn’t yet paid the bills for their own care — opted out of U.S. health care and headed south to the U.S.-Mexico border.

And no other bills came for at least one member of the family.

The patients: Jesús Fierro Sr., 48; Claudia Fierro, 51; and Jesús Fierro Jr., 17. The family has Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas health insurance through Jesús Sr.’s employment with NOV, formerly National Oilwell Varco, an American multinational oil company based in Houston.

Medical services: For Jesús Sr., 18 days of inpatient care for a severe case of COVID-19. For Claudia, fewer than 24 hours of emergency care after fainting. For Jesús Jr., a walk-in appointment for a dislocated shoulder.

Total bills: Jesús Sr. was charged $3,894.86. The total bill was $107,905.80 for COVID-19 treatment. Claudia was charged $3,252.74, including $202.36 for treatment from an out-of-network physician. The total bill was $13,429.50 for less than one day of treatment. Jesús Jr. was charged $5 (70 pesos) for an outpatient visit that the family paid in cash.

Service providers: Yuma Regional Medical Center, a 406-bed nonprofit hospital in Yuma, Ariz. It’s in the Fierros’ insurance network. And a private doctor’s office in Mexicali, Mexico, which is not.

What gives: The Fierros were trapped in a situation in which more and more Americans find themselves. They are what some experts term “functionally uninsured.” They have insurance — in this case, through Jesús Sr.’s job, which pays $72,000 a year. But their health plan is expensive, and they don’t have the liquid savings to pay their share of

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Worth-based well being care eradicates big hospital challenges

The American health care process has been in a condition of evolution considering that its inception. From the organization of the American Health-related Association to the progress of overall health insurance plan, Medicare, and Medicaid, there has been continuous development when it will come to conference people’s wellbeing treatment needs.

Despite the gradual course of action of reform, on the other hand, lots of individuals even now face superior health-related expenditures, particularly when it comes to long-term ailments. In truth, 90% of the nation’s once-a-year wellbeing care charges are related to individuals with chronic and psychological health and fitness problems, according to the Facilities for Disease Handle and Prevention.

In individual, coronary heart condition and stroke account for just one-third of all deaths in the United States each and every year and cost $216 billion, according to the CDC. Cancer, diabetic issues, being overweight, arthritis, and Alzheimer’s are the future most prevalent chronic conditions, all primary to significant once-a-year health-related prices.

How benefit-dependent treatment saves men and women money

Even folks with well being insurance policies are usually burdened with higher health care bills. It’s why NOMS Healthcare, which stands for Northern Ohio Professional medical Experts, aims to present a far better benefit for sufferers.

“Value-primarily based well being care signifies offering the optimum high-quality treatment at the most expense acceptable level, that means that physicians will function with the individuals to be certain that their situations are being handled effectively, possibly at a clinic campus or outpatient setting,” said NOMS main strategic officer Rick Schneider.

For instance, healthcare facility stays greatly raise the price tag of a health care course of action, with a a person-day continue to be costing an common of $2,607 and an right away keep ballooning that expense to $11,700 for every night time, in accordance to credit card debt.org. These kinds of substantial fees enable illustrate why 60 to 65% of all bankruptcies stem from medical costs.

Due to the fact NOMS Health care companies fully grasp in which high charges appear into participate in, they do the job to minimize the need for inpatient stays as a great deal as possible.

“When doctors occur up with a analysis or a proposed surgical procedure, they’ll get the job done with the affected person to decide if it can be performed outpatient or in a clinic location,” Schneider said. “They aim on what’s most effective for the affected person. Most people would like to convalesce at their houses.”

Suppliers perform to make certain people get the care they have to have, no subject exactly where they get better.

“For instance, with a overall knee substitute, we’ve long gone as significantly as to have a physical therapist waiting around at their dwelling when they go away due to the fact you want to get them going as shortly as feasible,” Schneider said. “It’s a little something that will ultimately direct to as excellent of an result as they can possibly receive.”

Irrespective of

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More than 10,000 patients caught Covid-19 in a hospital, analysis shows. They never made it out

They left with covid-19 — if they left at all.

More than 10,000 patients were diagnosed with covid in a U.S. hospital last year after they were admitted for something else, according to federal and state records analyzed exclusively for KHN. The number is certainly an undercount, since it includes mostly patients 65 and older, plus California and Florida patients of all ages.

Yet in the scheme of things that can go wrong in a hospital, it is catastrophic: About 21% of the patients who contracted covid in the hospital from April to September last year died, the data shows. In contrast, nearly 8% of other Medicare patients died in the hospital at the time.

Steven Johnson, 66, was expecting to get an infection cut out of his hip flesh and bone at Blake Medical Center in Bradenton, Florida, last November. The retired pharmacist had survived colon cancer and was meticulous to avoid contracting covid. He could not have known that, from April through September, 8% of that hospital’s Medicare covid patients were diagnosed with the virus after they were admitted for another concern.

Johnson had tested negative for covid two days before he was admitted. After 13 days in the hospital, he tested positive, said his wife, Cindy Johnson, also a retired pharmacist.

Soon he was struggling to clear a glue-like phlegm from his lungs. A medical team could hardly control his pain. They prompted Cindy to share his final wishes. She asked: “Honey, do you want to be intubated?” He responded with an emphatic “no.” He died three days later.

After her husband tested positive, Cindy Johnson, trained in contact tracing, quickly got a covid test. She tested negative. Then she thought about the large number of hospital staffers flowing into and out of his room — where he was often unmasked — and suspected a staff member had infected him. That the hospital, part of the HCA Healthcare chain, still has not mandated staff vaccinations is “appalling,” she said.

“I’m furious,” she said.

“How can they say on their website,” she asked, “that the safety precautions ‘we’ve put into place make our facilities among the safest possible places to receive healthcare at this time’?”

Blake Medical Center spokesperson Lisa Kirkland said the hospital is “strongly encouraging vaccination” and noted that it follows Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and federal and state guidelines to protect patients. President Joe Biden has called for all hospital employees to be vaccinated, but the requirement could face resistance in a dozen states, including Florida, that have banned vaccine mandates.
Overall, the rate of in-hospital spread among Medicare and other patients was lower than in other countries, including the United Kingdom, which makes such data public and openly discusses it. On average, about 1.7% of U.S. hospitalized covid patients were diagnosed with the virus in U.S. hospitals, according to an analysis of Medicare records from April 1 to Sept. 30, 2020, provided by Dr. James Kennedy, founder of CDIMD, a Nashville-based
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