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Why a Trip to the Emergency Room Costs a Fortune

Why do trips to the emergency room cost thousands of dollars even for the most trivial and routine of emergencies?

Elisabeth Rosenthal of the New York Times has been writing a fascinating series on why health care costs so much in the U.S. In a recent article, she asks: Why do trips to the emergency room cost thousands of dollars even for the most trivial and routine of emergencies?

"One of the simplest and oldest medical procedures — closing a wound with a needle and thread — typically leads to bills of at least $1,500 and often much more," Rosenthal writes. Her explanation: "Hospitals are the most powerful players in a health care system that has little or no price regulation in the private market."