ER Bill Shock

The picture to the right? That was me a few days ago. Just substitute messy hair, no makeup, and pajamas. And a cup of coffee. I had ER bill shock.

I told you about how Luke popped his elbow out of joint a couple weeks ago and I took him to the Emergency Room to have it fixed. Our doctor’s office was closing, the nearest urgent care clinic was 30+ minutes away, and my baby was in pain. So I took him to the ER. It took the doctor all of 15 seconds to put it right after we waited an hour. No x-rays, IV’s, nothing. The most they did was listen to his heart with a stethoscope.

We just got the bill. They’re charging us $1025. $350 for the ER fee, $325 for “treatment” of the elbow, and then the physician’s fee of $400.

I had estimated we’d be charged around $500 and after the agreed-upon insurance rate, we’d be paying $300-400 at the most. Wrong. We’re currently billed at $475 and the doctor’s bill is still processing.

We have a high deductible so it’s all out of pocket for us.

All for a 15 second “treatment.”


Don’t get me wrong, I’m grateful that Luke is okay. It’s just insane how much they are charging.

 Have you ever been hit by an insane medical bill?

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About the Author

Erika is a happily married mom with four energetic children. With a love for Jesus, photography, organizing, and encouraging other moms, she stays busy and definitely does not have it all together.


  1. No. thankfully.. my insurance pays for most of my stuff.. I knew the ER was expensive… but no idea it was that bad..

  2. Headant says:

    My bill for my hospital stay when I had my son was around $30,000. This was because I was in the hospital for almost ten days after he was born because of a staph infection they caused.
    Of course, I didn’t have to pay that much, but my portion was still high.

    • That’s awful. I remember my bill was super high when I had my son 9 years ago – it was about $30 K for my c-section and everything. Thankfully we had awesome insurance that paid all of it.

  3. Yeah, medical prices are exorbitant, especially at the ER. But it’s partly a game. They charge high because they know the insurance will renegotiate the charges or deny some payments, and they usually deal with insurance companies, not individuals having to pay out-of-pocket. It sounds like you at least got something that was slightly itemized, which is better than you can sometimes get — a nearly unintelligible “description” with a huge fee. Try telling them that you have to pay it out of pocket. They may adjust it for you in that case. If not, they are usually very willing to work with you to set up a payment plan w/no interest that works for you, so that you don’t have to shell out the whole amount at once.

    • Thanks for the info.
      We have money put aside just for cases like this, so it’s not a case of not having the funds, but more of a “Oh my goodness, I can’t believe it’s THAT much!” kind of thing.

  4. My hubby and I both ended up going to the ER same day, different reasons, a few months back. He sprained his ankle, but we didn’t know if it was broken or not. And I had one hell of a migraine.
    The urgent care centers were closed (this was a Saturday morning), we were both in pain.
    We gave the hospital our insurance cards, thinking they would provide us with a doctor in our network. NOPE! We both got the same doctor. He barely spent 5 minutes with us both, xrayed hubbys ankle (which was just a really bad sprain) and a CAT scan on me.
    Hubby got a $400 bill from hospital (after insurance coverage), I got $1000 bill from hospital (after insurance coveradge) and we both got a $773 bill EACH from the doctor who conveniently didn’t renew his contract with our insurance last year.
    We are on a payment plan for a year on the hospital bills and well over a year on the doctor bills.
    We can’t even afford insurance. We have a government program that covers the monthly deductable because we’re low income. (But we still stuck with the deductable, co pays and all the other bills) I don’t work, only hubby. We even get food stamps and the kids get state medical.
    It is seriously kicking our butt just pay a crappy doctor for 5 minutes of service.
    It is completely ridiculous!

    • Stephanie H says:

      I totally agree. We need a lot of health care reform. Like torte reform so doctors do not have to face so many stupid malpractice insurance. If we capped what their malpractice insurance had to pay or even set up a review for malpractice doctors could charge less. Some doctors aren’t renewing with government run programs because the government doesn’t pay enough to cover their malpractice insurance and other office expenses when they see Medicare , and Medicaid patients in a lot of states the Doctor Looses money especially for specialist which generally have more expensive malpractice insurance.

    • That is ridiculous, Tori. Yikes!

  5. Stephanie H says:

    Call the billing office get a supervisor and work on negotiating the bill down. Also talk to the Doctors billing department to negotiate most of the time hospitals would rather get some payment then either no payment or have to wait months and months while you pay it very slowly. I am on a fixed income and informed a hospital that I had saved up and could pay 20% of the bill now and they would get nothing later or I would be able to pay them 5-10 dollars a month for years. Because I was only willing and able to pay so little over the next years they took the 20%. You need to also look up your state laws on medical bills. In Texas they really have no options if they can’t get you to pay. They give you a bad mark on your credit and that is it. They can not garnish wages and nor take you to court. Other states have similar protections. Which helps put the medical consumer in the driver seat. I use to be a nurse and it is mind boggling how high medical bills have gotten all because of insurance companies and people that have no insurance and are unable to pay. This is why I was glad to hear about Obama care it isn’t a perfect solution but it is at least a little better than what is happening right now.

    • I plan to, Stephanie, thanks.
      Thankfully, we have money set aside for medical bills, but we have other medical expenses coming up soon and this much for such a small thing was a shocker. I did call the billing office, but they said to wait until we get the final bill and our insurance has finished processing everything. So far, it’s just been the EOB. I’ll be calling back.

  6. I had an emergency c-section and my daughter was in the NICU for a month. Our bills were close to half a mil! Luckily we have good insurance but we still had to pay our large annual out of pocket max. We negotiated at least 30% off just by asking. ASK!!

  7. I know how you feel! I broke my ankle last year and I remember standing outside the ER trying to see if I could stand on it to avoid having to go in because even with insurance you end up paying a ton. It’s sad that health care costs so much but good that you have insurance because it could be so much more…

  8. That price is outrageous! I’ve heard you can talk to the billing office to try and lower your bill. You might give that a try. And/or is there any discount for paying with cash (if you can?)

    • I did call the office, but they said to wait until we get the final bills and then call back. Believe me, I’m going to do my best! :)

  9. ER bills are insane. My boyfriend doesn’t have insurance, and he had to go to the ER for his shoulder. The bill was crazy! They charge more for the dye they inject you with for a CT scan than they do for high-powered pain killers. Definitely a shocking bill!

    • It is insane. And it’s not like they give you a price list when you walk in the door. You go and then are slapped with the bill later. Ouch!

  10. DenSchool says:

    That’s insane that you’re being charged THAT MUCH. That’s really not cool at all :(

  11. Medical bills can be ridiculous! It’s sad. I had friends who were still paying for their hospital stay for the births of their children when we were all celebrating the kids’ first birthdays!

    • That is sad! I had a couple friends who had to do that too. We were fortunate in that we had good insurance with our first 3. Then Luke was born Jan 9th, and our insurance went from excellent to ok on Jan 1st. We went from paying $250 to over $4K for his birth. It could have been worse, but still – ouch!

  12. Wow, that bill is crazy high! Medical bills are skyrocketing. One of my biggest fears is being hit with a crazy medical bill that’s not covered by insurance and that I can’t pay.

  13. I know this is going to be highly controversial , but I’m reading this from England and have never been so glad of our free national health system. I’m currently waiting for a non-emergency operation and having recently relocated due to my partners work, am ‘between’ jobs. There’s just no way that I could afford the procedure I’m going to have done if that’s the kind of costs you’re looking at for a super quick visit. I can only imagine how tough it is for parents with accident-prone kids! -fingers crossed yours stay happy and healthy :0)


    • Thanks for sharing, Meg. Healthcare costs are tricky all around and I don’t think there’s one clear solution to the issue.
      Good luck with your upcoming surgery and thanks for stopping by!

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