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Here's Hoping You Never Get A Hotel Bill Like This One

Sit back and enjoy a video that will probably give you a chuckle, then might make you fume.

The same folks who have sponsored essay contests about the costs of medical care have a subversive video out that puts health care charges and billing in a pretty embarrassing light.

What if a hotel billed you like a hospital? You probably don't need a spoiler alert because I'll bet you can guess how the story goes.

There are some priceless exchanges between the patient/guest and the guy in finance about a $20,000 bill from the Hotel Hospital (use your best French pronunciation).

Customer: "What is your standard rate?

Finance guy: "Actually, sir, there is no standard rate. We can charge whatever we want for these things."

And I like the part about the guy being billed for a cab that was ordered "prophylactically," just in case he needed it.

The video is part of a project funded by the American Board of Internal Medicine Foundation. And there's a nice post on the Costs of Care blog about the inspiration for the video: a trip to the Bellagio hotel in Las Vegas.

"The staff explained any charges on the bill, confirmed that the bill agrees with the expectations of the patron and then finalized the transaction, printing a copy on the spot for the traveler before they got in the cab to the airport hailed by the bellman," writes Dr. Vineet Arora, who wrote the video script. "What a far cry from hospitals where most of the hospital staff have no idea how much anything costs!"

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Scott Hensley edits stories about health, biomedical research and pharmaceuticals for NPR's Science desk. During the COVID-19 pandemic, he has led the desk's reporting on the development of vaccines against the coronavirus.