Andrew works as a chef at a small locally-owned restaurant in Joplin. In November of 2018, he sustained a deep cut in the palm of his hand at the tail-end of a lunch rush. Because of the severity of the cut, and on the advice of his co-workers, Andrew decided to go to the emergency room to have the wound stitched up. He says he was unsure of whether or not an urgent care would be able to treat the injury, and if he would have known that they could, he would have gone there instead of the ER.
At the ER, Andrew received three stitches, a tetanus shot and some lidocaine to numb the area that was stitched. He is uninsured because he cannot afford health insurance, and was unsure of how much these services would cost him, as hospitals rarely disclose the costs of services before administering them. “There’s nothing else in this life that works that way,” Andrew says.
The total bill came to $2,400. Andrew’s employers agreed to take on the responsibility of covering the bill, but were only able to negotiate the total down to $1,900 – a hefty payment for a small business that cannot afford to offer health coverage to their few employees. Because the $1,900 is still too much for Andrew’s employers, he is applying for financial aid through the hospital to lessen the burden of the cost. “It’s just frustrating that I even have to depend on my employers and financial aid to cover such a minimal treatment,” he says. “If there was a feasible way for me to get coverage – or if hospitals didn’t charge such outrageous rates for basic treatment – this whole situation would be a lot easier to deal with.”
“It’s just frustrating that I even have to depend on my employers and financial aid to cover such a minimal treatment.”