Former Surgeon General Stunned by $5K ER Bill

'The system is just broken,' says Jerome Adams
By Polly Davis Doig,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 28, 2024 2:22 PM CST
Updated Mar 3, 2024 4:15 PM CST
Former Surgeon General Gobsmacked by $5K ER Bill
In this Sept. 9, 2020 file photo Surgeon General Jerome Adams testifies during a Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee hearing to discuss vaccines and protecting public health during the coronavirus pandemic on Capitol Hill, in Washington.   (Greg Nash/Pool via AP,File)

One might expect a cranky elderly relative to be stunned by the cost of a visit to the emergency room and flummoxed in navigating a recourse. One wouldn't expect the same of a relatively young and spry former surgeon general of the United States. Yet here we are. As Business Insider reports, the aforementioned former Surgeon General Jerome Adams, 49, visited a Mayo Clinic ER in Scottsdale, Arizona, where he was treated for dehydration after a hike. The details look a little like this:

  • What he got: labs and three IV bags for the dehydration.
  • What he got, II: a $5,000 bill. That was billed under a Level 5 visit, usually reserved for things like strokes and chest pain. Adams begs to differ on the coding and says he got no breakdown on the tab.

  • What he did: Adams says he spent hours on the phone trying to understand the charge in an effort that was "mentally taxing"—even for a guy who served as the country's top doc from 2017 to 2021.
  • The potential catch: Adams has a high-deductible plan, which makes him pay thousands out of pocket before insurance kicks in. These plans are generally considered good for people who are either very healthy or very unhealthy.
  • What he says: "If I'm in this situation with my knowledge and with my financial resources and with my bully pulpit, then the average Joe doesn't stand a chance. The system is just broken," Adams says.
(More Jerome Adams stories.)

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