Mission Health sends refunds to patients affected by billing change

Asheville, N.C.-based Mission Health, acquired by Nashville, Tenn.-based HCA Healthcare in February 2019, is sending refunds to patients after a billing change last August resulted in higher charges for some outpatient visits, according to local news station WLOS

Mission Health patients raised concerns about billing changes, including an outpatient hospital fee that was being charged to them when they visited primary care providers. 

One patient, Jesse Urban, told WLOS he visited Mission Health-affiliated Primary Care of Highlands for a routine procedure last August 2019. He paid his $20 copay at the time of the visit, but later received a $200 bill in the mail. 

Mr. Urban said he was told that he owed $200 because freestanding physician's offices were now being billed at a higher rate as off-site hospital facilities.

"They have totally changed the billing policy for these facilities. They now call them provider-based departments, and that allows them to bill as [an] outpatient type facility of the hospital," Mr. Urban told WLOS.

Mission Health has now acknowledged that the billing change was "confusing" and is giving patients their money back. 

The health system issued the following statement: "The change unfortunately created confusion for commercial insurance and Medicare Advantage patients who previously received one bill, rather than two, and whose out-of-pocket payments may have changed. We sincerely apologize and are taking immediate actions to fix this issue."

An HCA spokesperson told WLOS that affected patients will be notified this week about a refund. 

More articles on healthcare finance:
'This is going to be the death blow': Coronavirus threatens to shut hundreds of rural hospitals 
Northwell Health delays bill payments for patients affected by COVID-19
Pennsylvania hospital furloughs employees not directly caring for patients

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