Novant Health sued over $2K ER visitation fee

A patient filed a putative class-action lawsuit against Charlotte, N.C.-based Novant Health, accusing the health system of charging a hidden fee for emergency room visits. 

According to the complaint, Micandria Darroux went to Novant Health Presbyterian Medical Center's ER in January 2021. A few weeks later, she received a bill totalling $4,116.65, which included a "visitation fee" of $2,000, according to the lawsuit. Ms. Darroux claims the visitation fee was a surprise and that Novant used an "unfair, false, deceptive and unlawful practice of charging its emergency care patients a substantial, unagreed-upon fee."

The complaint argues that the fee was hidden because it was not explained or disclosed in advance of it being incurred, and it was billed separately. 

The proposed class includes all individuals who received treatment and services at Charlotte, N.C.-based Novant Health Presbyterian Medical Center's ER and were assessed a visitation fee for their visit.

The business records and billing data from Novant Health indicates the class could consist of "at least 5,000" people, according to court documents. 

The lawsuit was filed Dec. 16 in the Mecklenburg County North Carolina Superior Court. Lawyers representing Novant Health moved March 11 to remove the case from the county court to the Western District of North Carolina, arguing that the putative class action should proceed in federal court because of the Class Action Fairness Act. The act aims to "curb abuse in class actions and keep cases of national importance in federal court."

Novant Health shared the following statement with WSOC: "We strongly disagree with the claims made in this lawsuit and intend to vigorously defend ourselves against them. The charge in question, which is billed using nationally standardized CPT codes for 'emergency department visit for the evaluation and management of a patient,' is what we charge for evaluating and managing patients in the emergency room. We deliver wide-ranging, life-saving emergency care 365 days a year, 24 hours a day [to] anyone who comes through our hospital doors regardless of their ability to pay."

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