Good Luck With Your Emergency Room Bill

Sarah Kliff has been engaged for the past year on a massive project to understand ER charges. This is admirable work, truly, but I suspect the eventual answer is going to be that ER charges are basically a witch’s brew of (a) randomness, (b) mistakes, (c) whatever they can get away with, and (d) some long-lost connection to a Medicare charge sheet with everything multiplied by eπ/2. For example, here’s something that Kliff posted today:

A rendering of a CT-scan will set you back $616. But if you add in postprocessing, the price goes down to $550. That’s pretty odd, isn’t it? Unless, of course, that postprocessing is designed to fuzz things up and you have to pay an extra $66 to get the nice, sharp, original image. Would any hospital cost accountants care to weigh in on this?