Atrium hospital billed North Carolina woman 18 months after visit

For nearly eight months, a North Carolina woman disputed a medical bill from Atrium Health Kings Mountain (N.C.) that arrived a year and half after she received care, according to local news station WBTV.

In December 2017, Teresa Tucker went to Atrium Health Kings Mountain for pneumonia treatment. She spent four days in the hospital.

Ms. Tucker didn't expect a bill after discharge, as she had already met her annual deductible. Her explanation of benefits said her insurer covered more than $21,000 of the care, and said a bill for the remaining amount could be sent from Atrium. However, that remainder — about $4,000 — was billed 18 months after her visit. The entire bill wasn't covered because the overnight stay wasn't preapproved, according to insurance documents cited by WBTV.

By the time the bill came, Ms. Tucker could no longer appeal to the insurance company because the deadline had already passed. She disputed the bill with the hospital, and eventually WBTV contacted Atrium Health for Ms. Tucker. The hospital said it would relieve the bill three days after the television station reached out.

In a statement to WBTV, Atrium Health said: "Our goal at Atrium Health is that our patients have the best experience possible. This not only includes during care, but with every single encounter, including conversations about billing. On rare occasions, actions by us, insurance companies or vendors we work with result in a patient experience that falls short of our goal. When that happens, we want to make it right for our patients and review procedures to help prevent a similar situation from occurring in the future. We are pleased we were able to do that in this instance."

Read the full report here.

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