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Thread: Asthma, anxiety, ER, ER bill, what a racket! Is it reasonable?

  1. #1
    Member ButterflyBreath's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Chattanooga, TN

    Asthma, anxiety, ER, ER bill, what a racket! Is it reasonable?

    It's been awhile since I've been on the forums. I just now registered here...was a member on the old site. Glad to be back.


    I had been told a few years ago that I had a little bit of Asthma. At the time they put me on Singulair which worked well. Last year I lost my health ins because I couldn't work so I quit taking it. I went on a trip to FL on 4th of July weekend. Before the trip I was having trouble breathing and since I still don't have insurance I bought over the counter Primatene Mist until I could scrape the $ together to go to the doc. The box mentioned that I shouldn't take it with a certain type of anti-depressant, but the one I take was not that type, and the pharmacist said I would be ok to take it.

    So I had been using the Primatene Mist for a couple to a few weeks before my FL trip. On the way back from the FL trip I started to feel like I couldn't breathe. It seemed like my brain didn't know when I should breathe in and when I should breathe out. I thought I was having an asthma attack and my heart was pounding out of my chest, something I'd never experienced before so I didn't know, but all I knew is that I couldn't breathe, and that's a scary thing. I was also feeling very nauseous and panicky. I told my boyfriend who was driving to find an emergency room. He hesitated to believe that I was having a real medical emergency, and told me that it would be expensive if I did go, maybe $600-$800, but since I felt like I was gonna die I made him take me anyway.

    In the ER... my heart rate and blood pressure were elevated and of course my breathing was abnormal, but they could not find anything wrong with me. They gave me IV Ativan and sent me home with Klonopin, and within a few days my symptoms went away.

    It turns out that I was having a undesirable drug interaction between my bupropion/Wellbutrin and the Primatene Mist. PM has ephedrine and it was making me manic and giving me anxiety, not good for someone who is bipolar. I seriously thought something was wrong and I was going crazy. You'd think that the ER would have noticed that bupropion and PM were incompatible. Wikipedia said specifically that it was not to be taken with bupropion/Wellbutrin.

    I got the bill and it was $4200! I couldn't believe it. How am I going to pay this? The little note at the top said they could knock off 25% if I don't have insurance, but still... Here's the bill:

    Pharmacy General $34 (Prob the IV Ativan)
    Lab Chemistry $405
    Lab Hematology $359
    Radiology Diag General $528
    Emergency Room General $1515
    EKG/ECG General $334
    Prof Fees Emergency Room $1028
    Prof Fees EKG $93

    They wanted to give me some medicine called Protonix, which I've figured out to be heartburn medicine. I refused it because I had no idea what it was and they wouldn't tell me. I'm glad I did because I don't have heartburn and didn't need it.

    What I want to know is if the "Emergency Room General $1515" and the "Prof Fees Emergency Room $1028" are reasonable. What the heck?! I'm guessing that's for the room and to pay the doctor but my GOD!

    This medical stuff is just a racket!! Maybe I don't understand what all goes into medical care, but from my limited viewpoint and how it relates to me, it seems that our healthcare system is broken. It's broken for doesn't work.

    So I'm hoping they will work with me because there's no way I can just fork over $4200. I just got a new job that pays decent, and if they base it on that I probably won't get help. But I have lots of debt I need to pay first before I can pay this bill.

    Any advice on how to handle this and whether or not the fees are reasonable?

  2. #2
    Moderator Float On's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    By a lake in MO
    Ask for a hardship application, make copies of everything because they'll lose the application 3 times, every month when you get a bill call and say you are waiting to hear on the hardship application. When it is denied, appeal. I've sent my monthly budget everytime with a letter explaining why I can't make the payments they require. Mine took 9 months. I'm still appealing the ambulance bill.

    And you'll probably get a seperate bill for the Dr. Once my hospital hardship was approved 100% (yes, our business has dropped so much that I qualify for 100% hardship), the Dr bill seems to have disappeared from my mailbox as well, just trying to take care of the ambulance bill now. Someday, when our business picks back up again I'd love to suprise the Nashville hospital with a suprise check to cover my expenses but for now I appreciate the hardship charity program.
    Float On: My "Happy Place" is on my little kayak in the coves of Table Rock Lake.

  3. #3
    Senior Member HappyHiker's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Mid Atlantic coast after 30 years in No CA
    Oh my gosh, I've no advice, but you have my deepest heartfelt sympathy and hope someone gives you great advice to resolve this. That seems very outrageously high...! But never been to an ER so don't know, really. Of course you're shocked--I would be, too.
    peaceful, easy feeling

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