By Kurtis Ming

ELK GROVE (CBS13) – Maria Motley could not believe what the hospital charged to take her temperature and blood pressure.

“How am I gonna be able to afford this?” she said.

When she said the hospital wouldn’t explain it, she called Kurtis.

Motley didn’t think twice when her Chihuahua “Gino” nipped her hand back in June.

Then the swelling started.

“The infection started traveling from here, up my arm,” she said.

She drove to UC Davis Medical Center’s emergency room, where she said they took her temperature and blood pressure.

After two hours of waiting, she said she felt better and left.

“They did nothing for me except for take my temperature and blood pressure,” she said.

But a few days later, she got a strange bill — $1,493.50 for use of the ER.

“I was just blown away,” she said. “For what? I didn’t even see a doctor.”

Patients need to realize they’re also paying to cover hospital equipment, salaries and even other patients who don’t pay their bills, according to Jan Emerson-Shea of the California Hospital Association.

“Part of what they’re paying for is the overhead of having the hospital ER available,” she said.

But that isn’t fair to patients, according to consumer and patient advocate Amy Bach of United Policyholders.

“They can charge her for her overhead of maintaining the waiting room that she stayed in for a couple hours, and the nurses salary — whatever portion of that,” she said. “But clearly it’s not gonna total $1,500.”

UC Davis Medical Center wouldn’t break down Motley’s charges for us, but said the person who took her temperature and blood pressure in the waiting room was in fact a doctor.

Motley said she has no choice but to start making payments, and she thinks hospitals should do a better job explaining why bills are so high.

“I think we deserve to know,” she said.

Only two states require hospitals to itemize their costs on bills — Florida and Texas, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. California does not.


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