Kremmling Memorial Hospital charges too much for level of care given
February 6, 2008
To the Editor:
Every time I read an article in the Sky-Hi Daily News about Kremmling Memorial Hospital, my stomach does a flip in disgust. As a prior patient there, these articles are sickening.
I have used the hospital for both minor and major medical care. I have concerns both as a former patient, a Kremmling resident, and a Grand County resident. Currently, my property tax dollars help fund the hospital. If Kremmling Memorial Hospital is approved for a new facility, every Grand County property taxpayer will be paying for it. I feel the citizens should be fully informed of the level of care they will be paying for.
Last year I was in need of emergency medical care. My husband drove me to the Kremmling Memorial Hospital Emergency Room. By just walking through the door, I was charged over $900. For the doctor to talk to me for a few minutes I was charged another $900-plus.
I just came in with a sudden onset of a headache. I was given an I.V. so they could administer pain medication. I was stuck several times by an inexperienced nurse who had to have someone else come in and insert my I.V. Should I be charged for such a lack of training? I was.
I was then put on an ambulance to Summit County. In Summit, I received a CAT scan, spinal tap, and additional pain medication. I was then sent on Flight for Life to Swedish Medical in Denver. There the nurses had to re-do my I.V. since the one I received in Kremmling was “so poorly done.”
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Ultimately, I was sent home with an order of rest. I had ruptured a blood vessel in my cerebral cortex, which is painful, but not life-threatening.
The reason I am telling you my story is my medical bills. I am grateful I have such good insurance coverage, because my portion from Kremmling Memorial Hospital was outrageous. The first bill from Kremmling Memorial Hospital was almost $3,000, which my insurance partially covered. My portion was still almost $900.
I called the accounting department for an itemized bill and there found out how much it cost me just to walk in the door. I attempted contacting the hospital’s billing department four times and never received a phone call back. When I did, I was told the charges did reflect a rate increase, but all the charges were based off surrounding areas and I would be charged that no matter where I went for medical care.
I was told I was responsible for the charges, and no changes would be approved. I fought and fought this with no avail, until I received my invoice from Summit Medical, which included an itemized statement along with the bill. I took both invoices to Kremmling Memorial Hospital’s finance director. She had no explanations as to why Summit’s bill was less than HALF of Kremmling’s bill when Summit had administered more than twice the care.
In the end, Kremmling Memorial Hospital did drop some of the money off my bill, but still made out ahead after everything was paid from my insurance. I am grateful there is emergency care in Kremmling, but at what cost?
I have no problem paying for the services I received in terms of equipment and medications used. I don’t have a problem paying for the doctor, but overpricing everything to cover the cost of the electric bill is outrageous. Why are the charges so much when it is a tax-funded facility?
People are not stupid. When we purchase a $3.75 latte, we know where our money is going, the cup, the milk, etc. When we pay over $900 just to walk through the emergency room doors, and an aspirin has to cost $6 in a hospital, where is all this additional money going? The explanations to justify this outrageous cost are just not adding up. Telling the public we don’t realize what it costs to run a business is demeaning and insulting.
If you take the time to talk to people who have used the services at Kremmling Memorial Hospital you will find similar problems. Everyone I speak with has had a problem at one point or another with this facility. Kremmling Memorial Hospital has Level IV care and charges a Level I price.
I am writing this letter in hopes to inform the people of Grand County that if Kremmling Memorial Hospital gets approved for a new facility, it will not just be the residents in the west end of the county paying for it. The entire population of property tax paying citizens in Grand County will be providing the funds.
Do we really want Kremmling Memorial Hospital Administration handling that much money with such poor skills? I don’t, which is why I will vote no and try to educate everyone I speak to as to why they should vote no as well.
I agree that Grand County needs a better medical facility. I would like to think there is a better company that would not abuse my tax paying dollars.