The United States of America is known for thinking it’s the best in the world while actually being one of the worst under many metrics, and none is quite so glaring as our absurdly broken, haphazard, and expensive healthcare system. It’s even generous to call it a system at this point. It functions as though it’s barely held together by a series of safety pins, twist ties, and pieces of duct tape.

A prime example of this is how, and how much, people are charged for hospital visits, with or without insurance. Perhaps an even better example is how those massive hospital bills everyone complains about can often be drastically reduced simply by pushing back a little.

One Twitter user by the name of Yolanda shared just such an experience in a Friday tweet that has since gone viral with just under 100,000 shares.

This bill-slashing event is far from an isolated one. Back in late December 2019, before the coronavirus pandemic had us all stuck at home counting the paint drip spots on our ceilings, one woman made a TikTok video encouraging people to ask for itemized hospital bills because, in her experience, this would reduce her bills by about 25 percent.

Other people who have tried this, like Yolanda, have been blessed with even bigger reductions in their bills, more around the range of 75 percent. According to TikTok user Shaunna Burns, this is because they don’t want you to know about all the “stupid charges” like $37 for a bandaid, so they simply remove them.

Hospitals are allowed to charge pretty much whatever they want and hide those charges unless specifically asked for them. They do so in order to make up for budget shortfalls caused by a barely-functioning healthcare system.

Asking for an itemized bill isn’t guaranteed to result in a bill reduction, but it’s also not the only thing you can try. Other Twitter users have chimed in with methods they used to successfully get their bills slashed to a fraction of what they were before.

Other commenters told their own stories of asking for an itemized bill from hospitals and getting their bills reduced.

The moral of the story is to always push back on U.S. hospital bills—and to fight for universal healthcare.

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*First Published: April 27, 2020, 10:04 am