“Steve Fair woke up at 2 a.m. in his room at the Sheraton New Orleans to find that his uvula – the tissue that hangs from the back of one’s palate – had swollen to the size of a Hershey’s Kiss. Worried it might block his airway, he and his wife rushed down to the lobby and hailed a cab for the nearest emergency room,” our partner Jed Lipinski writes over at NOLA.com I The Times-Picayune.
“Fair, 64, the sales and marketing director for Clement Foods in Oklahoma, was in town on a business trip. At the Tulane Medical Center ER, he paid the $300 deductible that his insurance provider, Aetna, requires for in-network for emergency services, he said. The doctor on call peered into Fair’s mouth, diagnosed him with strep throat, and administered a penicillin shot, reducing the swelling. The whole procedure lasted around 10 minutes, Fair said.
“A month later, back in Oklahoma, Fair got a bill from Schumacher Clinical Partners, a physician staffing company based in Lafayette, La. The bill said he owed $1,360 for the ER physician’s fee at Tulane, the records showed. Fair was appalled. He feared he was being price gouged.
“‘There’s no way to justify charging that much for a 10-minutes doctor’s visit,’ he said during another recent trip to New Orleans.
“Fair sent a letter to Tulane Medical Center asking if they knew that a third-party billing agency was charging him an ‘astronomical’ fee for his emergency room visit in April, he said. He also dispatched a letter of complaint to Schumacher. As of May 15, he said, he had yet to hear back from either one.” Jed Lipinski, “This man went to an in-network ER in New Orleans. Why did he get a $1,360 doctor’s bill?” NOLA.com I The Times-Picayune.
Jeanne Pinder, NOLA.com I The Times-Picayune, “You’re at an in-network hospital, but is the ER doctor in-network?”
Lee Zurik, “Third-party medical bills a shocker? Welcome to ‘balance billing.'” To watch Lee’s story on WVUE FOX 8 Live, click on the link here or on the image at right.
For more from our series, go to this page describing the Cracking the Code partnership of NOLA.com I The Times-Picayune, WVUE FOX 8 Live and ClearHealthCosts, and cataloging our news coverage. For more on our national partnerships, go to this page.
DID YOU SAVE money with information from ClearHealthCosts or “Cracking the Code? Tell us by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
DO YOU HAVE PRICES to share to help build our community-created guide to health care? Or are you looking for price information?
Click over to our New Orleans PriceCheck interactive software at WVUE Fox 8 Live and at NOLA.com I The Times-Picayune. Search our prices in our New Orleans-focused partnership. For non-New Orleans shares and searches, here’s the search and share page on our national ClearHealthCosts site.
ARE YOU A PROVIDER wishing to share prices?
This page has a sample spreadsheet showing the data that will let us include your prices. Download, fill it out and return to us at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.