Jang Yeo-im said she took her 8-month-old baby to a nearby trauma center to see if he was injured after he fell from the bed. Even though doctors recommended for the baby to take a nap and be fed with formula the medical bill was astounding – a whopping $19,000.
Jang, who was with her family on a vacation in San Francisco at the time, said she couldn’t grasp why the hospital stay costs so much. After looking at the bill she saw that the bulk of the money she was supposed to pay was for a so-called “trauma activation” procedure. The trauma activation fee is $15,666 at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital.
The mom was shocked by the extra charge especially because she couldn’t understand what exactly “trauma activation” meant.
If my baby got special treatment, okay. That would be okay,
the new mom said.
She explained that no special treatment was applied to her son at the hospital as the baby was uninjured. “They did nothing for my son,” Jang said in an interview with Vox.
Trauma Fees Can Be Astronomical
Doctors explained that the trauma fee is so large because a special team of doctors was assembled to wait for the baby thinking that he was seriously injured in the fall. But Vox found that many U.S. hospitals abuse the practice to charge patients extra.
For instance, in 2012, a bicyclist from Austin, Texas, left a trauma center with a bill of $20,000. The man said he received “minimal treatment” at the hospital. Around 75% of the bill was the trauma fee.
Two years later, a father was charged $10,000 after his son was treated for a bruise on the head. The man said the boy’s injury was “healing and insignificant.” Fortunately, the dad is a doctor and a lawyer and sued the hospital.
Meanwhile Zuckerberg General refused to back down, saying that preparing for trauma patients is expensive.
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