Chest pain and USA healthcare costs

After 7 months of being abroad, I returned home to Maryland in November 2016 to renew my passport and spend some time with my family during the holidays. Since leaving my last job in July 2016, I never bothered to get myself proper health insurance, with the reason being that I’m a fairly healthy individual and even if I needed medical services, paying out of pocket when I’m abroad is so inexpensive that it didn’t make sense to go through the hassle of getting health insurance. And since I’m so rarely in the United States anyways, where the healthcare costs are insane, I figured it was too much work to insure myself.

Well, I returned to the States for about 2 months and I had to go to the emergency room, which stung my finances quite a bit. After about 2 weeks of returning to the US, I started getting chest tightness on my left side of the chest. In fact, the heavy tightness with the occasional stinging feeling was mainly around the heart area. I dismissed the pain as “probably nothing” the first two days, but it was getting pretty uncomfortable the third day. I made an appointment with my doctor to get it checked out.

The doctor did an EKG on me and told me that the results seemed slightly abnormal and that I should make an appointment to go see a cardiologist as soon as possible. The earliest appointment I could get was on the next day, so my doctor told me that if the symptoms get worse, and if I have any doubts at all, that I should just head straight to the hospital.

That night, the chest pains were to a point where I was starting to get worried that I was having a heart attack. Since my parents were away to Atlanta looking at new houses to move into, and I was in Maryland home alone, I had no one to get any help from if I were to collapse due to it actually being a heart problem. I wanted to go to the hospital, but knowing that my dad was once billed over $10,000 for staying one night at a hospital due to an emergency, I was hesitant. Regardless, I went because… just in case and I still want to live.

The hospital couldn’t figure out anything so I went to the cardiologist the next day. The cardiologist took a reading of all the tests I was put through, and told me that it was definitely not a heart problem but that my chest muscles were probably inflamed due to weight lifting and being way too active. He told me to go home, take some Advil, and relax.

So what was the total cost incurred over the 2 days and being told to take Advil in the United States?

  • $150 – Doctor’s visit
  • $80 – Chest X-Ray Scan
  • $295 – Cardiologist visit
  • $250 – Blood tests
  • $878 – Hospital bill
  • $45 – Generic Prescription

All of this adds up to… DUN DUN DUN (drumroll)… $1,698. And this isn’t even the total yet. The hospital has yet to send me the bills for the hospital’s doctor (who bills separately), and for the tests that were done at the hospital. All of this will probably end up costing me well over $3,000, probably a bit more than $4,000.  And this cost was incurred over the course of 2 days, 2 doctor visits, 2 tests, and 4 hours at the hospital.

The healthcare system of supposedly the greatest country in the world sucks. And we should be ashamed of ourselves.

About the Author Chris Jeon

Software developer currently focusing on Android development.