“A woman who expected to pay $1,337 for surgery at a Westminster hospital but was billed $303,709 may be off the hook for the massive bill after the Colorado Supreme Court ruled in her favor Monday,” The Denver Post writes. “The justices unanimously found that the contracts patient Lisa French signed before a pair of back surgeries in 2014 at St. Anthony North Health Campus do not obligate her to pay the hospital’s secretive ‘chargemaster’ price rates, because the chargemaster —- a list the hospital’s sticker prices for various procedures — was never disclosed to French and she had no idea the chargemaster existed when she signed the contracts. At the time, the hospital had represented to French that the surgeries were estimated to cost her $1,337 out of pocket, with her health insurance provider covering the rest of the bill. But the hospital’s estimate was based on French’s insurance provider being ‘in-network’ with the hospital, which it was not. A hospital employee gave a mistaken estimate after apparently misreading French’s insurance card. After her surgeries, the hospital billed $303,709 for French’s care; her insurance paid about $74,000 and the remaining balance of $228,000 was disputed in a civil case. Attorneys for Centura Health, which operates the nonprofit hospital, had argued that the contracts, which required French to pay ‘all charges of the hospital’ for her care, implicitly included the hospital’s then-secret pricing schema.” The Denver Post, “Colorado Supreme Court rules in favor of woman who expected to pay $1,337 for surgery but was charged $303,709.”
Jeanne Pinder is the founder and CEO of ClearHealthCosts. She worked at The New York Times for almost 25 years as a reporter, editor and human resources executive, then volunteered for a buyout and founded ClearHealthCosts.
She was previously a fellow at the Tow Center for Digital Journalism at the Columbia University School of Journalism. ClearHealthCosts has won grants from the Tow-Knight Center for Entrepreneurial Journalism at the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at the City University of New York; the International Women’s Media Foundation; the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation with KQED public radio in San Francisco and KPCC in Los Angeles; the Lenfest Foundation in Philadelphia for a partnership with The Philadelphia Inquirer; and the New York State Health Foundation for a partnership with WNYC public radio/Gothamist in New York; and other honors.
Her TED talk about fixing health costs has surpassed 2 million views.