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she thought. So she takes a deep breath and reaches into the other nostril. But as Lucy(2)

Time:2019-11-30 23:27Shoes websites Click:

Capital Public Radio CPR

KELLY: Oh, wow. I am in full-on mom myself right there with those poor parents. Elisabeth Rosenthal, you were an ER doc before you moved to Kaiser Health News. Is that right? How common is this - kids in the ER with something they have managed to shove up their nose?

ROSENTHAL: Well, I worked in an adult ER, and grown-ups have mostly learned not to do this kind of thing. But pediatricians say it's very common and very easy to treat if you have long tweezers, which they call forceps - medical lingo. As a kid, I myself put pussy willows in both ears, so I've been there.

KELLY: In your ear. OK. I have been there with - yes - with kids for many things, including things up the nose. But I have never been presented with a $3,000 bill for something that took less than a minute to get out. What's going on here?

ROSENTHAL: What's going on here is that today, everything and anything will be billed and billed a lot. The doctor charged over $900. Katy Branson very smartly negotiated that into half right away. But the hospital charged more than 1,700. And so far, they aren't budging.

KELLY: They aren't. And I'm sure the parents have asked for them to budge. Why aren't they?

ROSENTHAL: Well, their attitude seems to be, an ER visit is an ER visit, and you could've gone to urgent care.

KELLY: They did go to urgent care, though.

ROSENTHAL: Right. And it was a Friday night, and they didn't want to leave Lucy uncomfortable all weekend. And plus, what layperson knows whether or not it's dangerous to leave Polly Pocket shoes up your kid's nose for the weekend.

KELLY: Yeah, you don't want her to keep sniffing in, and they end up in her lungs. And then...

ROSENTHAL: Right. They made a rational decision.

KELLY: So their insurance did not pick up any of this. Explain.

ROSENTHAL: Well, lots of families these days, like the Bransons, opt for a high-deductible plan. That means, in the Bransons' case, they had to spend $6,000 before insurance kicked in. They're pretty savvy. They made a decision that they would set this money aside for, like, a medical crisis. They just never imagined that they'd have to spend this money for a little shoe up the nose.

KELLY: Yeah. And what is the takeaway here? What should they have done differently, particularly - as we said, it's a - it was a Friday night. The pediatrician wasn't there.

ROSENTHAL: Well, a pediatrician might have told them it could safely wait until Monday morning or at least look for other options the next day. So it's important, I think, to have a primary care doctor who can say, beware; there are other options. But they did one really smart thing that others should follow. Instead of getting angry when they saw this bill, they began to push back right away and got a discount from the doctor, at least.

KELLY: A minor point, but I have to ask - whatever happened to the Polly Pocket shoes?

ROSENTHAL: The hot pink ones that caused the trouble disappeared into the playroom vortex. But Lucy and Emma had lots of other Polly Pocket shoes to show us when we visited.

KELLY: (Laughter) It's a danger lurking in every corner.

ROSENTHAL: Yes. Be careful.

KELLY: You can see those pictures, if you dare, at NPR's Shots blog.

Elisabeth Rosenthal, thank you so much for being here today.

ROSENTHAL: Thanks for having me.

(SOUNDBITE OF ISOTOPE 127'S "LA JETEE") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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