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Things We Saw Today: Crying Costs You Extra in the American Health Care System

Tom Hanks in A League of Their Own, yelling "There's no crying in baseball" but instead of baseball it says "the American healthcare system"

A now-viral tweet from a Twitter user going by @mxmclain shows a new but not at all surprising glimpse into the American healthcare system: Surgery is expensive but crying is extra.

The photo of what appears to be a bill for mole removal also includes a small charge for “brief emotion.” And while the idea of an $11 charge for crying in a doctor’s presence wouldn’t be shocking to anyone who’s seen what American hospitals and insurance companies do charge patients for, the reality isn’t any less damning for this entirely broken system.

It seems that the charge isn’t actually for expressing emotion, but for assessing it. Other Twitter users replying to the post provided the actual medical billing code, which is used for “Brief emotional/behavioral assessment” (presumably abbreviated to “brief emotion”). It applies to mental health screening as part of a standard clinical intake. It varies based on the insurance company, but it looks like medical professionals can use the billing code up to four times per year, per patient, but also two to four times per visit.

At least one mental health resource site for physicians specifically categorizes the assessment code as a way to generate revenue.

“If a patient requires four different screenings, that will be $24 per patient per visit,” writes Mentegram. “Can you see how this missed income can really add up?”

It’s great that more emphasis is being placed on screening for mental health issues during physical health exams, but as @mxmclain told Newsweek, “if it’s so important it should be fully covered by insurance.”

  • The National Women’s Soccer League have called off all games this weekend after a report from The Athletic came out, detailing horrifying allegations of years of sexual abuse committed by a now-former coach. (via The Hill)
  • Konami is reportedly working on New Metal Gear, Silent Hill, and Castlevania games. (via IGN)
  • Surprise, surprise, vaccine mandates work. (via Bloomberg)

  • It’s time: It’s decorative gourd season, mother f***ers! (via McSweeney’s)
  • More October content: Check out the trailer for Just Beyond, Apple+’s new R.L. Stine series. (via SyFyWire)

Happy Friday! Happy October! Happy everything, I hope!

(image: Columbia Pictures)

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Vivian Kane (she/her) is the Senior News Editor at The Mary Sue, where she's been writing about politics and entertainment (and all the ways in which the two overlap) since the dark days of late 2016. Born in San Francisco and radicalized in Los Angeles, she now lives in Kansas City, Missouri, where she gets to put her MFA to use covering the local theatre scene. She is the co-owner of The Pitch, Kansas City’s alt news and culture magazine, alongside her husband, Brock Wilbur, with whom she also shares many cats.