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GWPotter writes,

The second option is traditional Medicare with a Medigap policy (There is no requirement for the Medigap policy, but 20% of the costs for any major illness or injury is not small. ICU fees start at $10K per day here in Atlanta.)


Is that what the hospital bills, or Medicare's reimbursement?

You are only responsible for 20% of the Medicare rate, not the price-gouging "regular" hospital charge.

Brill then offers several real-life examples demonstrating the huge spread between the Medicare reimbursement rates and the rates that hospitals and doctors try to charge to private insurers and patients paying out-of-pocket. A blood-protein test that Medicare reimburses at $13.94 gets billed at $199.50 to an uninsured 64-year-old; a stress test for the same patient gets marked up from the $554 Medicare rate to almost $8,000. Three CT scans for a slip-and-fall victim? Medicare would have paid about $825 in total; but a Connecticut hospital billed the patient $6,538.


20% of the Medicare rate is going to feel like leaving a tip for the waitress after a meal.

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