Real Hospital Bill: $546 for Bag of Saltwater
That's for 6 liters of water and 54 grams of salt
By Kate Seamons, Newser Staff
Posted Aug 26, 2013 5:57 PM CDT
Updated Aug 31, 2013 7:36 AM CDT
Water, or liquid gold?   (©)

(Newser) – As far as price tags go, it's an attention grabber: $546 for six liters of water and 54 grams of salt. But that's what one patient was charged for what the New York Times calls "one of the most common components of emergency medicine": the IV bag. Nina Bernstein digs into the numbers by way of a 2012 food poisoning outbreak in upstate New York. She reviewed some of the more than 100 affected patients' bills, and quickly realized that some were charged as much as 200 times the manufacturer's price for a liter of saline—which has recently ranged from 44 cents to $1—plus another change for "IV administration."

A patient at White Plains Hospital got a bill that included $91 for a single unit of Hospira IV (hospital's cost: 86 cents), plus $127 for administering it. The $546 figure comes from the bill of a woman who spent three days in the same hospital, which paid $5.16 for her six liters of saline. Bernstein acknowledges we're pretty numb to the reality of inflated health-care costs, but sees something more in "the tale of the humble IV bag": "secrecy that helps keep prices high." It's the product of purchasing organizations and distributors and other players who make deals that "so obscure prices and profits that even participants cannot say what the simplest component of care actually costs, let alone what it should cost," she writes. "And that leaves taxpayers and patients alike with an inflated bottom line and little or no way to challenge it." Read her full piece here.

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Showing 3 of 207 comments
Sep 10, 2013 8:42 AM CDT
Routine KVO lines that are never intended for use are frequently installed in ER's and on ambulances. The policy that hospitals now have to change every IV line every few hours is admirable, but costly. Being charged 225.00 for an IV set that cost 12.90 is lunacy, but the insurance companies tell the hospitals they must comply. The insurance companies are the real culprit
Sep 4, 2013 10:45 AM CDT
Blame the insurance companies
Sep 2, 2013 4:38 PM CDT
my parents in law recently purchased an awesome Chrysler Town and Country Minivan by working part time online. investigate this