A South Korean couple who brought their young son to a San Francisco hospital in 2016 due to a head injury was shocked to receive a bill amounting to almost $19,000 two years later.
Park Jeong-whan, who was still an eight-month-old baby at the time of treatment, was only given a bottle of formula and a nap as the doctors quickly determined that there was nothing wrong with him.
In an interview with Vox, the couple, Park Seong-jin and Jang Yeo-im, shared that they were on a vacation in the city when their child accidentally fell off their bed in a hotel and hit his head on the floor.
Out of fear that the baby might have sustained an injury, the worried parents immediately called 911. An ambulance soon arrived and brought their baby to Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital.
A baby fell and hit his head. The family took hi to the ER. The ER said he was fine, let him take a nap, fed him some formula, and sent the family on their way.
The bill? $18,000.
Greatest healthcare system in the world, folks. https://t.co/ikbg1mpwXx
— Ezra Klein (@ezraklein) June 28, 2018
After the doctors had determined that the infant was fine, the baby was reportedly given some formula and allowed to take a little nap before he was discharged a few hours later. The family then went on with their vacation.
The shock came two years later when the family received their bill: $18,836. According to Jang Yeo-im, the baby’s mother, their travel insurance would only cover $5,000.
“If my baby got special treatment, OK,” Jang was quoted as saying. “But he didn’t. So why should I have to pay the bill?”
The exorbitant fee was reportedly due to the hospital’s response to a “potentially serious visit.” The bulk of the bill was for “trauma activation” which the hospital priced at $15,000.
A baby was treated with a nap and a bottle of formula. His parents received an $18,000 bill. – Vox https://t.co/geTniORF00
— Howard Dean (@GovHowardDean) June 28, 2018
A trauma fee, which can range from $1,000 to $50,000 depending on the hospital, is charged by a trauma center when it “activates and assembles a team of medical professionals that can meet a patient with potentially serious injuries in the ER.”
Hospitals have been justifying such charges on the claims that keeping a good response team on hand costs a lot of money.
“We are the trauma center for a very large, very densely populated area. We deal with so many traumas in this city — car accidents, mass shootings, multiple vehicle collisions,” a hospital spokesman told Vox. “It’s expensive to prepare for that.”