Health Care

A case of mistaken hospital billing

March 21, 2014
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A little more honesty in hospital billing, please.

Hospital bills can be very confusing to individuals.

Think of the reaction by the Medicare program when it received 217 claims between 2010 and 2011 for patients diagnosed with kwashiorkor.

For the uninitiated, kwashiorkor is a condition of extreme malnutrition, usually found in children in very poor countries. This is one of the diseases medical geographers study — usually associated with sub-Saharan Africa, not the United States.

Medicare looked into the claims and found that not a single one of the claims was legitimate.

Yet, the hospitals involved were paid more than $700 million for the 217 claims.

After audits of the claims, the hospitals blamed “computer errors” for their inaccurate bills.

Undoubtedly, the patients involved probably needed care, but kwashiorkor?

Hopefully, the faulty computers were put out to pasture. Perhaps a few people too.

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