Hospital Charges $18,000 After Baby Takes Nap, Drinks Formula

… procedures, equipment and facility fees.

Hospital officials interviewed Vox defend the fee, saying it’s expensive to round up a trauma team and treat a patient, even if that treatment ends up being minor. Interestingly, the story quotes the person responsible for inventing the fee for the National Uniform Billing Committee. “To a degree, I feel like I created a monster. Some hospitals are turning this into a cash cow on the backs of patients.”

Hospitals are supposed to use discretion and downgrade the fee to that of a regular ER visit when appropriate, but many are clearly not.

Unfortunately, outside of Medicare and state hospitals, regulators have little sway over how much is charged. And at public hospitals, such fees may be a way to balance government budgets. At SFGH, the $30,206 higher-level trauma response fee, which increased by about $2,000 last year, was approved by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors.