The patient, Janet Winston of Eureka, Calif., said, “I was grateful I had such wonderful care at Stanford, but I was pretty outraged they could charge that. … No one cut into me. No one gave me anesthesia.” Her insurer paid its negotiated share of $11,376.47, and Ms. Winston’s 20% share of that came to $3,103.73, which she bargained down to $1,561.86.
For insurers, large health systems like Stanford may be too big to fight, suggested Harvard University health care economist Leemore Dafny, who told KHN that “everyone wants to point fingers at the providers, but … a lot of times [insurers] roll over and pay the rates.”
In the end, though, Stanford received less than $13,000 of its original charge, so maybe 2 plus 2 only equals 3. A tough pill to swallow, perhaps, but the whole situation has a kind of chilling Donnie-and-Marie quality to it: a little bit new math, and a little bit “1984.”