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US hospital drives back sick Australian, charges US $ 9,000

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It’s no secret that the American health care system requires patients to dig deep into their pockets, but an Australian still had the shock of his life when he received a bill for US $ 9,000 after going to emergencies.

Andy *, who grew up in Sydney but is currently trapped in New York, developed symptoms of COVID-19 in early March.

He walked to the nearest emergency room, but after spending five hours there, they decided not to test him because he showed only mild symptoms.

But a few weeks later, Andy received an invoice in the mail, which meant that he had to pay US $ 9,000 (A $ 13,700) for less than ideal treatment.

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“It’s obviously very expensive,” Andy told news.com.au.

“And I don’t even know if I have it (coronavirus) yet,” he added.

“They didn’t want to test me.”

After coming down with a sore throat and fever, Andy contacted the medical authorities.

“I didn’t want to go to the hospital,” he said.

“I called my regular doctor, but they didn’t want me to leave.

“They directed me to the state government, which then referred me to my general practitioner. It went on and on. I basically spent four hours on the phone.

“Finally, they said” we are too scared for you to come and see us, so you have to go to the hospital. “

The stranded Australian entered the nearest emergency room and was not asked if he had medical insurance.

“After five hours of waiting, they told me that they did not want to test me (for coronavirus),” he said.

“At this point, they had virtually no access to the tests.

“The (people) they tested were high risk patients.”

Instead, the emergency nurses did a blood test and chest X-ray on Andy, to make sure it was a mild case. Fortunately, it was.

“They told me the answer was to go home, stay home for a few weeks,” he said.

A few weeks later, Andy received the bill in the mail. It was a whopping $ 9,000.

“Would it cost them $ 9,000 to do it (these tests)?” No, “he said.

“Did I pay for a few other people (at the hospital)? Yes.”

Fortunately, Andy has private medical insurance and fully expects to foot the bill. Others, however, will not be so lucky.

The Australian however has a philosophical approach to the whole situation.

“This is how it works,” he said. “Anyone who goes to the emergency room cannot turn away. So if you factor in all of these costs, that’s a lot. “

Essentially, they charge some people more than others, to cover all of their costs.

“I have nothing bad to say about this. It’s life.”

Kris Skandakumar, a native of Melbourne, is also stuck in New York, and is not as happy with the American medical system.

“The healthcare system is very different from an Australian hospital,” he told news.com.au.

As the curve of Australia flattens, New York still has lots of rotten bodies on the streets.

“What is happening at home makes me a little jealous,” admitted Mr. Skandakumar.

“People in Australia can get tested (for COVID-19) if they need it. But it is a different reality for us. The news from New York is rather bleak. “

* Andy has requested that his last name not be released for privacy reasons

Keep the conversation going | alex.turner-cohen@news.com.au | @AlexTurnerCohen

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