Home > Health, Humor/Satire > $2900 for a Room- $75 for a Sponge

$2900 for a Room- $75 for a Sponge

The Brazilian penthouse suite  at the Copacabana Palace in Rio de Janeiro

The Brazilian penthouse suite at the Copacabana Palace in Rio de Janeiro

The good folks at Georgetown University Hospital sent me a document the other day informing me of the charges incurred for a recent major operation. It was a long procedure, mind you, but in a country where it costs an average of $16,000 to deliver a baby, would it really come as a surprise that the total cost for the surgery and one-week stay came to $83,000? Hell, I’m not sure I’m worth half that.

My part of the bill, thanks to the insurance I get through work, was only $500 and even that was covered by my flexible spending account. I cannot even imagine what the uninsured go through. Anyway, in order to make my claim, Georgetown had to provide me an itemized, highly detailed account of how we got to $83,000.

Turns out my semi-private room was $2,900 a day. Just the bed. I started thinking. If I need to go through this sort of thing again maybe I can make a deal with the hospital. After I wake up in the recovery room, they can tell me how it all went and then call a car service and send me directly to the penthouse suite at the Ritz-Carlton in Pentagon City. I’ll do green Jell-O for the first three days then switch over to the buttered lobster.

By the way, a hilarious thing happens when you google “hotel rooms for $2,900.” You get dozens and dozens of hits for the following headline:

Justin Bieber & Selena Gomez Share $2,900 A Night Suite In Brazil.

That’s right, a penthouse suite at the Copacabana Palace in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil costs two celebrities as much as one night’s stay in an American hospital.

Then there were the sponges. I saw three of them used for the procedure and each one cost $75. Again, here is another opportunity I can have to make a deal with the hospital. The night before the surgery, I will, personally, go to the local CVS and buy 6 sponges for $4.99. As I hand them to the surgeon the next day (still wrapped, of course) I will explain that these sponges have the very same sponge-like qualities as his special sponges. They absorb stuff.

Just for the record, I have absolutely nothing against Georgetown Hospital; to the contrary, I see them as a magic, healing collection of wise and skilled shaman who happened to save my life and hundreds of other lives every week. But it does seem to be a strange and arbitrary health care system we have where one hospital charges $5000 for a CT-scan and another will charge $8000. Where lying prone in a bed automatically costs you the equivalent of a penthouse suite and where sponges sell for $75. It’s the business side of the health care system and it’s kind of shocking, should you ever have the chance of seeing it.

Here’s to you not having that opportunity anytime soon 🙂

  1. Crys Quimby
    July 25, 2013 at 1:08 am

    Great essay, loved reading it. in the 1980s, I had a loved one in an LA hospital. I said “I have a headache” and a nice nurse who overheard me replied, “I’ll get you something for that.” She gave me 2 Tylenol. When the bill came out, they were listed at $38 each. Amazing. Glad to see how you’re bouncing back, Robert. Hugs.

  2. Taryn Bailey
    July 25, 2013 at 1:53 am

    Yes, the room price was excessive, but it also includes your meals and 24 hour nursing care. I’m not sure about the meals, but the nursing care is worth it’s weight in gold, and is not billed separately. Taryn Ellison Bailey, RN

    • July 25, 2013 at 2:30 am

      You’re right…the nursing care is probably a lot of that cost and they literally keep you alive so I’m with you there. I had a wonderful, wonderful set of nurses for the week I was there. In fact, I took a picture of all their pictures that were posted on a bulletin board in the unit.

  3. July 25, 2013 at 12:36 pm

    the poor middle class, already whipped mercilessly by the economy, get sick and has to face medical bills that are proportionate to Pentagon contractor billing. Its a national disgrace. How could anyone in their right mind fight any sort of change to the current system? Its out of control.

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