An Unhealthy Problem Meets an Unlikely Solution

One spring day a few years back, a fifty-something man named George found himself short of breath. His wife drove him to the emergency room at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, where he was diagnosed with pneumonia. When George was released from the hospital four months later, he was presented with a 161-page bill of $474,064 as his share of the costs.

George survived the pneumonia, but he didn’t know if he could survive the bill. His room alone cost $73,376, and respiratory services, oxygen, and breathing tests added up to $94,799. “Special drugs,” most of which were listed as “Sodium Chloride .9%,” otherwise known as IV saline solution, came to $108,663.

George hired a billing ...

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