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Two years ago, Augie Hong, who works for an investment firm in San Francisco, awoke with severe abdominal pains. He went to an ER at the hospital closest to his house and was diagnosed with acute appendicitis. He wasn’t worried about the cost because he had health insurance from his employer. However, when he got the bill, it was $59,283, including $5,264 for the doctors. According to the Healthcare Blue Book, this amount was six times the fair price for his area.


1. What is the range of fees for a routine appendectomy in California?
2. What was Mr. Hong’s mistake and what should he have done?
3. Under the Affordable Care Act, what are hospitals suppose to do by 2014?
4. What do experts advise consumers to do regarding hospital charges?


Rabin, R.C. (2012). The Confusion of Hospital Pricing. The New York Times, April 23 (Retrievable online at