I was chopping onions about a month ago, and managed to slice off a bit of the tip of little finger. About half a centimeter, which wasn't a lot but was enough to really bleed. I was alone and operating with only one hand, but I managed to stop the blood flow and put on a bandage.
The next day I attempted to change the bandage, but this time just couldn't get the blood to stop. (I was at work and didn't have the resource.) It was a mistake to try to change it, but, there you go.
Anyway, rather than bleed all over my desk or the sink in the bathroom, I wrapped it as best I could and headed off to a doc in the box. They, having more than one hand to use, got it stopped pretty easily. They stuck a small piece of "gel foam" on it, bandaged it, and done. 15 minutes. The gel foam was sort of like putting a bit of Styrofoam on my finger, then taping it in place. Simple. Worked great.
The bill came later; $245, of which my insurer paid $0, but was decent enough to apply it to my deductible.
So I scour the CPT manual (which describes the procedure and relates it to a charges) for something less expensive. The code they billed, 12001, included stapling, suturing, etc, much more involved than sticking on a piece of foam and bandaging it.
No luck; that's the simplest procedure going. They won't change it, they won't accept less, I'm stuck.
Was I in a position to bargain as they stopped the blood flow? Not really. Did I have any idea they'd charge me $1,000 an hour to emplace a bandage? Of course not. Will they negotiate something reasonable now? Of course not. Would any of you have stopped them before you got in the door and said, how much will this cost? Had I asked the nurse, would she even have known? Doubtful.
The insurance company won't help me. That's not what they do, negotiate for patients.
I had no knowledge and no bargaining power. That's not the free market at work. It's health care, and it's why insisting in free market solutions for health care is just stupid.