$15 for one Tylenol pill? 5 Inflated Hospital Costs You Didn’t Know About

$15 for one Tylenol pill? 5 Inflated Hospital Costs You Didn’t Know About
June 30, 2019

Health insurance continues to be a hot topic of debate in the United States and across the world. Many people, particularly younger Americans, seem to think that health insurance isn’t something that they need to prioritize if they are currently in good health. However, the high costs of even a short hospital stay may necessitate some form of health insurance. Legislators are even being forced to reckon with the fact that surprise medical bills are putting people into debt. Here are five of the most outrageous examples of inflated hospital costs in the United States.

Non-sterile gloves

Some of the most staggering examples of inflated hospital costs are the aspects of your stay that you don’t even think twice about. One such fee is for non-sterile gloves, which doctors will routinely put on prior to examining you. A single pair of non-sterile gloves can run over $50 in some hospitals. When you consider that an average patient may see the doctor three or four times a day during a hospital stay, this can quickly get out of hand. 

Plastic cups for medicine

Another example of an inflated hospital cost that has even less purpose in the grand scheme of your stay in the plastic cup your medication comes in. These cups frequently run $10 each, which is frankly ridiculous considering that they wind up in the trash. Keep in mind that the price for these only takes into account the cup itself, and not the medication in the cup. While $10 does take a few days to add up in cost during your stay, it’s the principle of the markup that makes this cost so egregious.

Alcohol swabs

Like non-sterile gloves, alcohol swabs are routinely used in hospitals as a way to keep things sterile and hygienic. Particularly if you’re getting blood drawn or an injection of some sort, the area will likely be swabbed prior to any needles coming into contact with your skin. That being said, just because a simple alcohol swab may cost less than a dollar, a hospital will charge you almost twenty times that much during your stay. That means that if you get blood drawn on three separate occasions, the cost of sterilizing the injection site alone could run you more than $60.


While it’s no secret that medication is expensive in the United States, some medications are still quite surprising. It’s true that Humira, the prescription medication used to treat a wide range of conditions from arthritis to inflammatory bowel diseases, costs three times as much in America as overseas. However, for much more common forms of medicine, particularly over-the-counter drugs, it can be shocking to receive the bill. Tylenol costs about $15 in some hospitals, meaning that you can spend upwards of $30 a day on one dose of Tylenol just for lower back pain treatment during your stay.


In many doctors’ office waiting rooms, boxes of tissues are commonplace. However, in a hospital, you may find a tissue box as one of the numerous dizzying costs billed during your stay. While not as expensive as some of the other items on this list, an $8 box of tissues compared to the $2 or $3 they may cost from a big-box retailer is still objectively inflation. Especially when other offices don’t bill you at all for such convenience, the increased price of tissues becomes even more silly.

As you can see, there are plenty of hidden and inflated hospital costs that can make even a short-term insurance plan well worth considering. If you’re going to be traveling to another country or are enrolled in a school where you may be more at risk of various medical issues, seeking out a one-month health insurance policy can be quite beneficial. Enrolling in a short-term policy like the ones offered by Agile Health Insurance can offer you or your family medical benefits in the event of an unexpected diagnosis or accident. You don’t have to change doctors or worry about open enrollment periods when you pick a short-term plan. Most policies don’t even have a waiting period, which means that you’re free to take advantage of your new health benefits the same week you’re approved.

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Lois Stevens