Follow-Up On That $1126 Charge For A 2-Inch Bandage: Oops, It's $2

Happy ending alert: Yesterday, as part of our "Medical Bills That Make You Say 'What?"' series, we posted here the disturbing story of a Florida hospital bill that included an $1126 charge for a 2-inch elastic bandage. Stephanie Allen, the 32-year-old educational technologist who sent it in, had been fighting the bill for a year, to no avail.

Yesterday, she shared a link to our post on the Florida hospital's Facebook page. And today, she tells us, she awoke to an email from the hospital's patient access director that included this:

I was sorry to hear about the issues you were having with your account. As a result, we have reviewed the charge information from your visit and discovered that the item that was charged at $1,126.00 was erroneously changed to this amount during a system update. The actual change for the 2” elastic bandage your received is $2.00. Your account has been credited $1,124.00. Please feel free to contact me if I may be of further assistance.

That's the kind of news that can really make a blogger's day. But more importantly, readers, what lessons do you see here? Clearly, ask for eye-popping bills to be itemized so you can check each charge, as Stephanie did. But perhaps the fresher lesson is that social media shaming can be a powerful tool for fighting bad charges — whether they're mistakes or just intentionally astronomical. I've heard of Facebook and Twitter working wonders to get better customer service in the retail sector, but has anybody else tried posting sky-high charges on a hospital or health insurer's Facebook or Twitter feed?

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Carey Goldberg Editor, CommonHealth
Carey Goldberg is the editor of WBUR's CommonHealth section.



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