The bill totaled more than $21,000, and David Rigsby’s creditors were threatening to heap on another $9,000 if he didn’t pay up.

Presbyterian Española Hospital had charged the sum for a colonoscopy and hernia repair in 2005. Both procedures took about an hour. Rigsby, a 66-year-old former volunteer emergency medical technician, didn’t even spend the night in the hospital.

Rigsby paid $3,000 upfront and, because he was uninsured, the hospital granted him a $2,317 discount as a “self-pay” patient.