7 medical bills making headlines

Seven medical bills have made headlines in the last few months, including a more than $3,000 bill for a 1.8-mile ambulance ride and an $847 "facility fee" for a telehealth visit.

1. A $3,419.60 bill for a 1.8-mile ambulance ride went viral after a woman posted a photo of the bill on Reddit April 19. The woman said she received the bill after her father was taken to the hospital for heart failure, according to Newsweek. She said her father had Veterans Affairs benefits and was being transferred to a VA-approved facility. The woman said her father died. 

The woman said she's not paying the bill. She said she did not have power of attorney, and her father's ride should not cost $3,000 because he was covered by VA insurance. The woman did not say where the ambulance ride occurred, but said in one reply on Reddit that she lives in the Midwest.  

2. TikTok user Linguamarina posted a video March 13 about her experience giving birth at a California hospital. She received a hospital bill for more than $36,000 — of which she had to pay $2,200 after insurance — for the birth and a single-night stay. The delivery was without complications, aside from a tear that needed stitches, and lasted 20 minutes, she said in the video that went viral.

3. A case reached the 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 Post reported. 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.

4. 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, ProPublica reported 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.

5. 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.

6. 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, KDVR reported. 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.

7. A man in Missouri said he received an emergency room bill for more than $1,000, despite never seeing a physician, CBS News reported 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.

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