Colorado hospital charged $1,877 to pierce a child's ears

Margaret O'Neill's 5-year-old daughter underwent an outpatient procedure at Children's Hospital Colorado in Aurora two years ago. Several months after the operation, Ms. O'Neill was shocked when she received a bill for $1,877 for "operating room services" related to her daughter's ear piercing, according to ProPublica.

The band of tissue that connected Ms. O'Neill's daughter's tongue to the floor of her mouth was too tight, and Ms. O'Neill brought her to Children's Hospital Colorado to have the tissue snipped. She was surprised during a preoperative visit when the surgeon offered to pierce her daughter's ears while she was under anesthesia for the operation, according to the report.

The surgeon told Ms. O'Neill to bring earrings to the hospital on the day of the operation if she wanted to have her daughter's ears pierced. Ms. O'Neill brought in the earrings, assuming it was a free service.

Months after the operation, Ms. O'Neill received a bill from the hospital that included a $1,877.86 charge for ear piercing-related "operating room services," which her insurer would not cover. After complaining to the hospital multiple times about the bill, Ms. O'Neill said the hospital told her to pay the bill or it would be sent to collections, according to ProPublica.

Surgical ear piercing is an example of unnecessary treatment, and it is an uncommon service for hospitals to offer. The Health Care Cost Institute, a nonprofit that maintains a database of commercial health insurance claims, could only find about two dozen possible cases of surgical ear piercing a year in its billing data, according to the report.

Children's Hospital Colorado declined to comment to ProPublica about the ear piercing.

Read the full ProPublica article here.

More articles on healthcare finance:

Healthcare bankruptcies more than triple in 2017
Banner Health's net income nearly triples
Ohio hospitals lose appeal in dispute over Medicare reimbursement: 6 things to know


Copyright © 2024 Becker's Healthcare. All Rights Reserved. Privacy Policy. Cookie Policy. Linking and Reprinting Policy.


Featured Whitepapers

Featured Webinars