Oklahoma woman hit with $15k charge for 4 surgical screws

An Oklahoma woman was initially charged $15,076 for four surgical screws after undergoing foot and shoulder surgery, according to a Kaiser Health News report.

Here are eight things to know about the situation.

1. Sherry Young, 57, a mother who is retired and on disability, received medical treatment in June 2017 at Oklahoma City-based OU Medical Center.

2. The treatment included foot and shoulder operations. On the same day, Ms. Young received treatment for an injury in her shoulder due to arthritis and overuse, as well as foot procedures, including a bone spur removal, according to the report. As part of the foot procedures, she received four surgical screws (2.8 millimeters wide and a maximum of 14 millimeters long) made by Naples, Fla.-based Arthrex.

3. The total bill for Ms. Young's three-day hospital stay was $115,527, reports Kaiser Health News. The $15,076 for the screws is included in that amount. According to the report, other parts of the bill included $4,265 for a drill bit used in the treatment, as well as $619 for a saw blade.

4. Ms. Young's insurer, BlueCross BlueShield of Oklahoma, sent her a letter stating the treatment she received typically occurs on an outpatient basis, and therefore it was not "medically necessary" for her to stay overnight, according to the report. The hospital stay was not approved at that time.

5. Ms. Young told Kaiser Health News she reached out to OU Medical Center but was not able to find out how much the screws cost the facility. Still, John Schmieding, senior vice president and general counsel for Arthrex, provided some insight to the publication, saying, "Our sale price for screws used in foot and ankle procedures would be below $300 per screw, with the most expensive around $1,000."

6. A spokesperson for OU Medical Center declined to specifically comment about Ms. Young's bill to Kaiser Health News. The medical center's statement to the publication read: "OU Medical Center provides the highest-quality patient care. We are focused on acquiring the latest tools, treatments and technology, while diligently making sure we have the resources to maintain this commitment our patients deserve. We strive to keep costs down and focus investment on where it really matters — our patients." According to the report, OU Medical Center also said most patients don't pay the full price after negotiated discounts between insurers and hospitals, but discounts would not apply if the person's insurance denied payment.

7. BlueCross BlueShield of Oklahoma told media it did not flat-out deny payment for Ms. Young's treatment, but additional information was needed from the provider to ensure proper processing of her insurance claim.

8. Ms. Young's most recent billing statement showed she was not charged for the hospital stay, but there was a $413 charge for an "appeal denied," according to the report.

Read the full Kaiser Health News report here.

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