SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — A Sacramento man faced with a $55,000 medical bill for an appendectomy shared the high cost of health care on Reddit, where it’s gained worldwide attention.
Thousands of people have commented after Nic Gonzalez, 20, received the large bill from Sutter General Hospital.
Gonzalez went to Sutter General for his October operation, because it was only a few blocks away. After tests that determined he was suffering from appendicitis and the subsequent surgery, he was feeling fine.
Then the bill showed up.
He shared the $55,029.31 on the social media website Reddit, where it shot to the top of the front page with more than 10,000 comments under the title I never truly understood how much healthcare in the US costs until I got Appendicitis in October. I’m a 20 year old guy. Thought other people should see this to get a real idea of how much an unpreventable illness costs in the US.
Gonzalez was still on his father’s health insurance at the time, and that reduced the bill to $11,119.53—an amount the 20-year-old said “is still a ton at this time in my life.”
“The CT scan didn’t last that long, so I can’t see how it cost $7,000,” he said.
He says he accepts the bill, but wanted to share it online so people could see the latest example of the high cost of health insurance in the United States.
“I wasn’t looking for pity or anything,” he said. “I was just looking to enlighten, to inform people of the situation.”
So is $55,000 the normal cost of an appendectomy?
A 2009 study in the Archives of Internal Medicine, the average cost of an appendectomy ranges greatly, but averages around $30,000.
We asked Sutter Health why $55,000, and they pointed to California’s uninsured and those on Medi-Cal, saying:
“…we receive less than the actual cost of providing services from the majority of our patients while daily serving scores of other patients who have no ability to pay anything. Sutter Health agrees that an improved billing structure is needed..”
As for Gonzalez, he says he hopes the dialogue he’s sparked will lead to change.
“It’s not that I’m angry at them for charging me this much, I just think it’s the situation in America without health care,” he said. “It’s overpriced.”