$2,000 for two bags of saline? One former nurse says something’s gotta give


Dedicated to affordable, quality healthcare and coverage for all Americans.

By Consumers Union on Friday, August 15th, 2014

There’s a basic problem with the cost of medical care: when you really need help, you’re not exactly in a position to negotiate. Even the most well informed patients can fall victim to the system, as Sandra from Huntington Beach, Calif. recently discovered.

As a retired operating room nurse of 30 years, Sandra,knows a thing or two about our healthcare system, including how much a bag of saline should cost. So she was shocked when, after going into the hospital to treat her severe dehydration she got a bill for $2,000.

From her work as a nurse, Sandra knew it cost the hospital around $2.50 per bag for the two bags of IV fluid she received. “As a nurse, I know there are other costs involved – staff, beds, et cetera – but this was shocking.”

She hadn’t hit her health plan’s deductible yet, so Sandra had to pay out-of-pocket for the full amount. She says it’s hard to understand how something urgent and important can be so expensive: “I didn’t have a choice – I had to get the fluids. And I had to pay.”

“Even when people do their homework, the cost can be shocking,” says Sandra. “If you just pay the bill – even if they’ve billed you too much – the hospital won’t say anything. Most people don’t think to challenge their bills.”

Have you received a medical bill that seems over-the-top? Let us know: share your story here. 

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