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Fainting in This Country Can Carry a $10,000 Price Tag

After passing out, Kirk Nielsen got gouged by exorbitant health care fees.

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Similarly, the statement indicates that BCBS would have gotten a huge discount on, and had to pay only one-fourth of, the $1,409 ambulance bill that St. Paul Fire & Safety Service is now pressuring me to pay in full. I'm responsible for all but $17.65 of it, BCBS says, because the ambulance service was "out of network." BCBS has been kind enough to cover less than half of the $48 worth of oxygen I inhaled during my ambulance ride. Hence the check for $17.65 that BCBS mailed me. Some of the oxygen was "in network," I guess.

A few years ago, in order to control price gouging, Congress ordered up a national fee schedule for Medicare payments to ambulance services. According to that legally binding schedule, Medicare, like BCBS, would have to pay St. Paul Fire & Safety Service only about one-fourth of the $1,409 the company says I owe.

My date in Duluth gave me a break. When are America's health care givers going to give all of us one?

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