In their look at our nation's hospital and emergency room system, the NYT found a pricing system which regularly charges outrageous fees for menial services, not to mention, drastically varies from hospital to hospital. Additionally, the bill is rarely reflective of the amount of money the hospital even wants to receive for a specific service since insurance companies almost always negotiate a better deal. Instead, it's more of a jumping-off point for negotiations. Combine this with the fact that you generally aren't doing much in-depth cost research before heading to the E.R., hospitals can basically charge whatever they want.
Some more egregious price inflation examples uncovered by the NYT? A whopping "$571.83 for 'application of a finger splint'" and "$4,495 for a CT scan of the abdomen (which costs about $400 at a nearby outpatient facility)." And those stitches? Rosenthal figured it's about $500 per stitch. Now that really hurts.
For more on how and why hospitals set their prices sky-high, click through to check out the entire article. (The New York Times)