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Woman’s $12,000 bee sting bill shows how high emergency room costs have climbed

How can a two-hour treatment for a bee sting end up costing a patient $12,000? Prices can soar when the patient goes through a barrage of tests and insurance doesn’t cover the bill, but Sylvia Rosas’ case is shining a light on the cost of health care in the country.

It all started with a simple bee sting in her yard in Florida. Rosas had allergic reactions to stings in the past, but didn’t have an EpiPen, so she went to the emergency room, CNN Money reported. Several doctors looked at her sting and ordered blood tests and an EKG to ensure she wouldn’t have a reaction. The visit, which took less than two hours, happened to be at an out-of-network hospital, so her insurance wouldn’t cover it. Rosas had to pay the bill out of pocket.

Now, she’s second-guessing when she needs to see a doctor so she won’t wind up with the bill later.

>> Read more trending news 

Rick Brown found himself in a similar financial situation, CNN Money reported.

He twisted his ankle. After trying to treat it at home to no avail, he went to his local emergency room, on his own crutches, and was seen by a physician assistant. Brown had an X-ray done on him and was given a splint and a prescription, with a suggestion to see a specialist for the fracture. 

He was billed $2,600 for the ER visit. Then, he received a separate bill for $5,700 from the doctor’s office. Insurance paid half of the ER bill, but denied the doctor’s charges because the person who saw him was out-of-network.

Brown said that if he would have known that the bill wouldn’t be covered, he would have waited a few days longer to see someone else.

Officials with the Health Care Cost Institute say ER visits cost an average of $1,917 in 2016. That’s more than 31 percent higher than it did four years before.

The amount billed by the hospital usually covers the facility fee and some tests and services, CNN Money reported. But it usually doesn’t include the cost patients incur for actually seeing a doctor, which is usually billed separately.

The big question is: Why does it cost so much?

Emergency rooms are seeing more patients, and those patients have severe medical problems.

People with cuts and fevers will more likely go to urgent care locations. Patients with chest pain and those suffering from asthma attacks are seen in emergency rooms, and those conditions are more expensive to treat, CNN Money reported.

Emergency rooms also have access to expensive equipment, like CT scans and MRIs.

So where does that leave patients who need care, but don’t want to gamble with their finances?

First, experts told CNN Money that patients don’t need to sign paperwork with the ER that promises to pay in full just to be seen. Federal law says ERs have to screen and stabilize anyone who comes in.

Second, if you’re stuck with a bill, speak with the health care providers. Prices can be negotiable, CNN Money reported. A professor of surgery and health policy at Johns Hopkins University found that hospitals mark up some services as much as 340 percent more than Medicare allowances.

“Prices are highly fluctuant and often negotiable,” Martin Makary told CNN Money. “As with new cars, people are not expected to pay the sticker price.” 

Dairy Queen giving away free vanilla cone Tuesday to celebrate spring 

After a rough winter, it’s time to celebrate the first day of spring with a treat.

>> Read more trending news

Dairy Queen’s website said various locations will be giving away free small vanilla ice cream cones Tuesday. The promotion is limited to one cone per person and will be honored at all non-mall locations, company officials said.

A list of participating locations can be found on Dairy Queen’s website.

Death penalty for some drug dealers part of Trump opioid plan, report says

President Donald Trump's proposal to fight the nation's growing opioid epidemic reportedly includes pursuing the death penalty for some drug traffickers. 

According to Reuters, Trump will detail his plan – which calls for stronger penalties for dealers, fewer opioid prescriptions, and improvements to drug education and access to treatment – Monday in New Hampshire.

>> Read more trending news 

Andrew Bremberg, Trump's domestic policy director, said the Justice Department "will seek the death penalty against drug traffickers when it's appropriate under current law," Reuters reported. The death penalty currently can be sought for some drug-related murders, the news service reported.

Read more here or here.

Lion Gate Estate: Bizarre $550K home with carpeted ceilings, vintage cars takes internet by storm

In the market for a whimsical $550,000 home with carpeted ceilings, vintage cars and statues lurking around every corner?


You'll still want to check out the now-viral listing for Detroit's Lion Gate Estate. Trust us.

>> See the listing here

"Unique barely begins to describe this one of a kind Grixdale Farms estate," reads the listing by Real Estate One's Alex Lauer. "Every aspect of 'Lion Gate Estate' has been articulated with painstaking attention to detail and mind blowing decorative flair. Too many custom features to list!"

And he's not kidding. The three-bedroom, two-bathroom home, owned by a former automotive designer, is the definition of "extra," with a "Liberace-inspired living room" and "museum-like" interior, Curbed reports

>> Read more trending news 

The listing continues: "Highlights include heated swimming pool with outdoor shower and cabana. Custom two car garage with hand painted automotive murals. Finished basement with billiard room and entertainment area. Fenced in yard with fountains and statuary. Sale includes full contents of the house, including Kohler Campbell baby grand player piano, mint condition Frigidaire kitchen appliances c. 1950. One of a kind custom built 1966 Cadillac Fleetwood Sedan, One of a kind custom built 1974 Lincoln Mark IV Coupe, Custom pool table, countless automotive relics and artifacts. Once in a lifetime offering."

But if you want to take a tour, you'd better check the weather forecast first. "Only shown on sunny days," the listing warns.

>> Click here or scroll down to check out some photos of the home

Americans binge 17 billion drinks a year, CDC estimates

College students have a reputation for binge drinking, but it’s not just them. Americans drink massive amounts of alcoholic beverages, according to a new report

>> On Even one drink per day can increase your risk of cancer, study warns

Researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention conducted a study, published in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine, to determine how much booze United States citizens down. 

To do so, they examined information from the CDC’s 2015 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, which included self-reported data on individuals’ liquor consumption habits over 30 days. They calculated the annual binge drinking by “multiplying the estimated total number of binge drinking episodes among binge drinkers by the average largest number of drinks consumed per episode,” the authors wrote. 

>> Read more trending news 

After analyzing the results, they found the Americans guzzled 17 billion drinks in 2015. That equals 470 total binge drinks per binge drinker.

“This study shows that binge drinkers are consuming a huge number of drinks per year, greatly increasing their chances of harming themselves and others,” co-author Robert Brewer said in a statement.

>> On Do you drink too much? Here's what a new study says

The prevalence of binge drinking was more common among young adults ages 18-34, but more than half of the binge drinks consumed annually were by adults 35 and older.

Furthermore, about 80 percent of the drinks were consumed by men. And those who made less than $25,000 a year and had educational levels less than high school drank “substantially more” a year than those with higher incomes and educational levels. 

The researchers said the results “show the importance of taking a comprehensive approach to prevent binge drinking, focusing on reducing both the number of times people binge drink and the amount they drink when they binge.”

>> On Alcohol better than exercise to live past 90, study says

With their findings, the researchers hope to implement prevention tactics such as reducing the number of alcohol outlets in a geographic area and limiting the days and hours of sale.

Woman buys $600 worth of Girl Scout cookies, has Scouts give them out free to strangers

A Seattle Girl Scout troop is ending the cookie season on a sweet note.

KIRO-TV's Siemny Kim shows us how their cookies inspired strangers to pay it forward.

The annual cookie sale gives Girl Scouts a lesson in business.

>> Donald Glover meets Girl Scout who sang ‘Redbone,’ buys 113 boxes of cookies

For this troop, it's also given them a lesson in kindness.

“At first, I was really surprised. I didn’t know what to do,” Girl Scout Norah Wall said. 

Norah Wall and Ruthie Bridgman had set up outside of a Grocery Outlet store in Seattle's Madrona neighborhood when a good Samaritan approached their booth.

>> Dunkin' Donuts introducing Girl Scout Cookie-flavored coffees

“I remember this lady coming up and she was like, ‘Hey, if I buy all these cookies, will you hand them out to everyone that comes out of the store?’” Ruthie said. “And we were like, ‘Yeah, I guess.’”

The woman spent more than $600.

Norah and Ruthie even had a hard time giving the cookies away.

“Some people just didn't believe that somebody would actually do that,” Norah said. 

Incredibly, that random act of kindness didn't end there.

It made its way inside the Grocery Outlet, where Cami Nearhoff is a cashier.

“We had a lady in my line – people in front, people in back – and she bought all of their groceries,” Nearhoff said.

>> Need something to lift your spirits? Read more uplifting news 

Nearhoff said people paid it forward all day.

“All day it just seemed like people were doing little things. So I think it kind of inspired people to give back to each other. Whether it was a dollar, someone was short 6 cents – all day long it was happening. It was just crazy. Really crazy day,” Nearhoff said.

>> Read more trending news 

This troop is excited knowing their cookies could inspire such kindness. 

“I think it's really cool, and it made me so happy that I was able to be a part of this,” Ruthie said.

The troop is raising money to attend Girl Scout camp this year.

If you're still looking for the sweet treats, you'd better hurry. Sunday is the last day of cookie sales.

Couple married 72 years die 10 hours apart

Malcolm and Betty Clynch never did anything apart, their family said. That proved to be true even in death.

The Texas couple married in 1945 when they were teenagers, WFAA reported. But soon the newlyweds were separated for the only time in their lives, while Malcolm served in the Army. Love letters shared by the family illustrate the couple's deep love and devotion to one another. Malcolm signed each love letter with: "I'll always love only you."

>> Read more trending news 

That love continued for the rest of their lives, as they raised a family and had long careers. After 72 years of marriage, Malcolm and Betty, both 90, were in failing health. Betty had Alzheimer's disease and Malcolm had heart issues, the family told WFAA.

The family believes that Malcolm felt like he had to die first, to show Betty the way. Malcolm did die first, at a Fort Worth assisted living facility. Betty followed him in death just 10 hours later, family told WFAA.

The family held a double funeral for the couple on Monday.

Florida man going blind sees beach for last time

Woody Parker and his wife, Genie, arrived at Fernandina Beach in style.

Woody has glaucoma, an eye disease that causes blindness, and he’s on the verge of losing the sight he has left.

Wish of a Lifetime and Brookdale Senior Living decided to help make Woody’s dream come true before he goes blind, ActionNewsJax reported.

>> Read more trending news 

He wanted to see the beach with his wife one last time.

“I love it. I love the beach,” Woody said.

He and his wife made their way down closer to the water.

“There’s nothing like the sound of the beach with the waves crashing,” said Woody.

“Always special to be anywhere with him, especially here. We enjoy it,” Genie said.

Hand in hand, they relaxed on the beach.

“It’s just real cozy. There’s just something about it that’s just different,” Woody told ActionNewsJax.

Woody says even though he may lose his sight, it won’t stop him from coming to the beach if he has another chance.

“Of course, I won’t be able to see the changes, but I’ll be able to feel them,” he said.

Photos: St. Patrick's Day 2018

Sonic will have pickle slushes on the menu this summer

Sonic Drive-In is bringing pickle juice to customers in its signature slush form.

Food & Wine reported that the drive-in restaurant chain will have pickle juice slushes on its menu this summer.

>> Read more trending news 

“Quite simply, pickle juice is fun,” Scott Uehlein, Sonic's vice president of product innovation and development, told Today in a statement. “Nothing says summer like a Sonic slush.”

According to Food & Wine writers who were able to taste the drink at Sonic’s Oklahoma City headquarters, the bright green treat is sweet and tangy. 

A Sonic team member told the publication that the syrup that makes the pickle slush can be added to anything once it’s on the menu, but it will be up to each franchise to decide if there is a charge for that.

Pickle juice slushes will be available to order at Sonic restaurants in June.

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