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A medical bill

What do hospitals charge their patients?

Every year, the International Federation of Health Plans — a global insurance trade association that includes more than 100 insurers in 25 countries — releases survey data showing the prices that insurers are actually paying for different drugs, devices, and medical services in different countries. And every year, the data is shocking.

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It pays to try to get to the bottom of your medical bills because they’re subject to more errors and overcharges than you might think. Here are some examples of ridiculous overcharges on a patient’s itemized bill (which you usually need to ask for—and review with a fine-toothed comb):

1. Tylenol

What’s it for: Pain relief

Charge to patient: $15 per individual pill, for a total of $345 during average patient stay 

Real-world cost: $10 for a 100-count bottle.

2. Patient Belonging Bag

What it’s for: It’s essentially like a grocery bag to hold your personal items

Charge to patient: $8

Real-world cost: $0.24

 3. Box of tissues

What it’s for: Sometimes listed as “mucus recovery system,” we’re pretty sure you know what tissues are used for

Charge to patient: $8

Real-world cost: $2.50 for a 184-count box

4. Gloves

What’s it’s for: Anything from safely administering medicine to performing surgery

Charge to patient: $53 per non-sterile pair (sterile are higher), for a total of $5,141 during average patient stay

 Real-world cost: $0.17 for a non-sterile pair/$0.69 for a sterile pair

5. Cup medicine

What it’s for: This cost is for the plastic cup used to administer medicine, and not the actual medicine.

Charge to patient: $10 a cup, for a total of $440 during average patient stay

Real-world cost: $o.09 a cup

6. Marking pen

What it’s for: To mark the body for surgery

Charge to patient: $17.50

Real-world cost: $3.00

7. Cuff, BP Adult

What it’s for: Use of blood pressure cuff

Charge to patient: $20 (for a single use)

Real-world cost: $50.00 (to own your own)

8. Oral administration fee

What it’s for: Charge for nurse to hand you medicine taken by mouth

Charge to patient: $6.25 per instance, for a total of $87.50 during average patient stay

Real-world cost: $0.00

9. Swabs

Charge to patient: $23 per swab, for a total of $322 during average patient stay

Real-world cost: $3.19 per 375-count box

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