facebook Story about patient’s $109K ‘surprise’ hospital bill goes viral

BIG PHARMA POLITICS: Consumers pressure politicians to do something about rising drug prices. Read More

Story about patient’s $109K ‘surprise’ hospital bill goes viral

If you haven’t already heard the story about the teacher who received a shocking $108,951 hospital bill after his heart attack, allow Voices for Affordable Health to catch you up:

The story of Drew Calver, first reported by Kaiser Health News and NPR, illustrates how consumers are profoundly affected by high health care costs and less-than-consumer-friendly billing practices.

Calver, a 44-year-old father of two, was at home when he suffered a heart attack in April 2017. A neighbor rushed him to the nearest emergency room. The hospital was not in Calver’s health insurance network, but his school district plan paid nearly $56,000 for a procedure to clear a blocked artery and for the subsequent four-day hospital stay. Though the charges totaled $164,941, Carver was assured by the hospital that he would owe little, if any, additional out-of-pocket costs.

But that’s not what happened. The hospital sent Calver a bill for $108,951. The practice is known as “balance billing.” Consider that $109,000 was nearly twice Carver’s annual salary.

An independent reviewer later determined that the hospital’s charges were exorbitant. For example, the hospital charged $19,708 apiece for two stents. The median price paid by hospitals for the same stent was $1,153.

Stressed by the bill and by the hospital’s ongoing collection notices, Carver told his story to Kaiser Health News. After the story published and in response to public outrage, the hospital reduced the bill to $332.29.

Carver paid it, in full, over the phone.

“It feels great that this is over for me and my family,” Carver said in a follow-up interview with Kaiser. “But this isn’t just about my bill. I don’t feel any consumer should have to go through this.”

What about you? Have you or a loved one received a “surprise” medical bill? Share your story with Voices for Affordable Health.