5 Medical Bills Making The News

“I thought I had insurance!”

By Marissa Plescia

Five medical bills have made headlines in the last few months, including a $13,000 one for a kidney donation and a $847 “facility fee” for a telehealth visit.

  1. A case reachedthe Colorado Supreme Court March 8 over a $303,709 bill for two back surgeries in 2014, for which the patient signed a contract agreeing to pay “all charges of the hospital,” the Denver Postreported. St. Anthony North Health Campus in Westminster, Colo., allegedly told the patient, Lisa French, the bill would be $1,337 out of pocket, and her insurer would cover the rest. The bill ended up being more than $300,000, of which the patient paid $1,000, her insurance paid $74,000 and the remaining $228,000 was disputed.

Ms. French’s attorneys argued that the hospital wrongly told her that insurance was in network, the contract was ambiguous and that she should not be responsible for the disputed portion of the bill. The case has not been resolved yet, according to Colorado Politics.

  1. A Nevada man was charged$13,064 after donating his kidney, despite the fact that living organ donors are not supposed to receive bills for transplant-related care, Propublicareported Feb. 11. The procedure was in September 2021, but the case took several months to resolve. In the end, he was not responsible for the bill.
  2. A couple was charged$80,000 when their gestational surrogate went through an emergency delivery of twins at Provo-based Utah Valley Hospital in April 2020,NPR reported Feb. 23. The bill showcased a loophole in the No Surprises Act that took effect Jan. 1. Cigna, the couples’ insurer, denied that the care was an emergency because the surrogate was admitted to obstetrics by her doctor instead of going through the emergency department.

Under the No Surprises Act, insurers and providers are supposed to negotiate among themselves to decide on a reasonable bill for out-of-network care. But if the insurer decides the care was not an emergency or did not receive the correct documentation, the claim can be rejected, according to NPR.

  1. Brittany Tesso, a Colorado resident, was recently charged$847.35 for a “facility fee” for her 3-year-old son’s telehealth visit at Aurora-based Children’s Hospital Colorado, KDVRreported. She also received a bill of $676.86, which she paid. She said she took the telehealth call at home, and it appeared that some of the doctors were at their homes.
  2. A man in Missouri said he received an emergency room bill for more than $1,000, despite never seeing a physician, CBS Newsreported Jan. 25. The visit was for his 2-year-old son, who burned his hand on a stove. The family said they waited for an hour and left without being seen.