Case over $303K hospital bill reaches Colorado Supreme Court

The Colorado Supreme Court will take up a lawsuit March 8 centering on whether a patient who expected to pay $1,337 for a surgery will be on the hook for more of the bill that reached $303,709, according to the Denver Post.

The patient, Lisa French, had a pair of back surgeries in 2014 at St. Anthony North Health Campus in Westminster, Colo. The dispute centers on a contract Ms. French signed in which she agreed to pay "all charges of the hospital" for her care. 

Ms. French claims that when she signed the contract, St. Anthony estimated it would cost her $1,337 out of pocket and her insurer would cover the rest. Instead, the bill was $303,709. Ms. French paid $1,000, her insurance paid $74,000 and the remaining $228,000 was disputed.

Attorneys representing Ms. French argued that a hospital representative mistakenly told her that the insurance was in network, the contract she signed was ambiguous and that she should not be responsible for the disputed portion of the bill.

The hospital's attorneys argued it is the patient's responsibility to understand their insurance and determine in-network status. St. Anthony further argued that the estimate provided to Ms. French was based on her insurer being in network and that she experienced complications on her second surgery, which increased her bill. 

Judges on the civil case initially found the hospital’s contract was ambiguous, and a jury decided she did breach her contract but owed the hospital only $767. 

The hospital appealed and the Colorado Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the hospital, finding its contract was not ambiguous and a jury should not have been able to determine the amount Ms. French owed. 

The Colorado Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in the case March 8 to determine if the pricing and contract are ambiguous. 

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