Chart of the Day: The Cost of an ER Visit Is Skyrocketing

Over at Vox, Sarah Kliff is collecting data and personal stories about ER visits. Today’s installment is about “facility fees,” the charge added to your bill just for walking through the door:

Around 1 am on August 20, Ismael Saifan woke up with a terrible pain in his lower back, likely the result of moving furniture earlier that day….The only place open at that hour was Overland Park Regional Medical Center in his hometown of Overland Park, Kansas. The doctor checked his blood pressure, asked about the pain, and gave him a muscle relaxant. The visit was quick and easy, lasting about 20 minutes.

But Saifan was shocked when he received bills totaling $2,429.84. The bill included a $3.50 charge for the muscle relaxant. The rest — $2,426.34 — was from “facility fees” charged by the hospital and doctor for walking into the emergency room and seeking care.

You will be unsurprised to learn that these fees are rising faster than Donald Trump’s hat size:

Hospitals claim that facility fees are going up because we are all aging, getting sicker, and requiring more complex procedures in emergency rooms. Jonathan Mathieu, chief economist at the Center for Improving Health Care Value, is skeptical: “This feels a little shaky, for a lack of a more elegant term, because it is the same trend year over year over year.”

It feels a little shaky to me too. The average facility fee has risen 72 percent since 2009. Have we really gotten 72 percent sicker over that period? Color me doubtful.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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