Hospital CEO responds to patient billed $142 for chat with physician during physical

The CEO of Grand Rapids, Mich.-based Spectrum Health is advocating for more billing transparency, after a complaint highlighted expenses a patient incurred following her annual exam, according to NBC-affiliate station WOOD-TV.

"We agree with you that a more transparent process is necessary," Spectrum Health President and CEO Tina Freese Decker wrote to the patient in an email response cited by the station. "I have shared your suggestion (for additional transparency) with our Spectrum Health Medical Group leadership so that we can apply this suggestion into our workflow."

At issue is billing for physician visits.

The patient, who remained anonymous, said in an email to Ms. Freese Decker that she incurred $142 in additional charges because she briefly discussed certain issues with her physician during her annual exam at a Spectrum Health Medical Group location, according to WOOD.

"She didn’t do any additional treatment, testing or prescribe me anything. There was no follow-up scheduled. There was no indication that this was anything other than a typical conversation one might have with their new doctor," the patient wrote.

The patient said in her complaint to Spectrum Health that she was told by billing that she was charged for an additional consultation because issues she discussed during her annual exam were not considered preventive. Therefore, the second charge was not covered by her insurance company, even though the wellness visit was.

Since February, when Ms. Freese Decker responded to the patient's complaint, Spectrum Health has formed a group "to evaluate the issue and look at best practices of other health systems across the country," a health system spokesperson told the station.

"We want to find a solution that alleviates this concern for patients and at the same time ensures we are compliant with billing and coding regulations. We realize the billing process can be confusing and are committed to transparency with our patients," the spokesperson added. 


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