Katie Wilcox is a producer with the 9Wants to Know Team. She worked with reporter Chris Vanderveen and the rest of the 9WTK team collecting your medical bills, and your stories. They just finished a marathon day - telling one person's story in every 9NEWS newscast on Thursday.
I’ve been singing Destiny’s Child “Bills, Bills, Bills” in my head for the last 3 months – but Thursday especially.
We had 12 hours of the phone lines open – and got at least 60 submissions through those talks with our volunteers, Nicole and myself.
We are still sorting through Show Us Your Bills emails and Facebook comments – but at this point, it is safe to say that we had well over 100 responses and new patient stories, we are still encouraging people to email us a copy of their actual medical bill so we can keep building on this database and show more trends.
SHOW US YOUR BILLS: Show us your outrageous medical bills
Our goal is – and always has been – transparency.
Right now, patients don’t know what they’re going to have to pay for just about anything when they go to a hospital or emergency room.
Some patient stories (Erez Raviv) even showed us that a regularly scheduled doctor’s visit can come with surprise fees.
By analyzing these bills, we were able to identify an insane amount of money being charged for urine tests and see that the state Medicaid office is now spending 26 times more money on urine tests than just 2 years ago – something HCPF didn’t even know until we told them.
We have been better able to spot possible errors and help patients know what to look for, what to ask for – and we realize, and have been told – that this is starting to feel like a grassroots movement that might be enough to push hospitals towards more transparency and fairness.
For us – transparency means truly being able to shop around for the best care for your needs and being able to plan your budget around that. It could also mean knowing what a CT scan, for example, actually costs a hospital.
We also hope to identify if there are any other possible scams in the industry – or dramatic price surges, like urine drug tests.
So – we are still taking people’s bills. I am still building on our database and identifying trends based on what we have seen.
We are still trying to get the attention of providers, and our doors are still open to any of the hospitals who didn’t talk to us – if they want to have an honest conversation about hospital billing.
ShowUsYourBills@9news.com is still the best place to send all the bills, bills, bills.