Teacher Treated For Heart Attack Handed $109,000 Hospital Bill

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“I’ll worry about the person who got a $20,000 bill. They talk you into paying that off. And people do it. I had nowhere else to turn, besides saying this was wrong.”

 

A high school teacher in Austin, Texas, suffered a heart attack, was operated and remained in hospital for four days. A month later he received a hospital bill of $109,000.

In April 2017, Drew Calver was home with his eldest daughter who was seven at that time and his wife, Erin, had gone to a nearby store with their six-year-old daughter.

The 44-year-old man was in his bedroom when he suffered excruciating pains in his chest. He fell on the floor and shouted for help. His daughter called their neighbors who rushed Calver to St. David's, a nearby hospital. Upon arriving, doctors examined Calver and run tests that showed his heart had a blockage in his left anterior descending artery and said that it had to be operated. Doctors added that the procedure would include adding four stents into the blocked artery.

Calver said as they prepared for the operation, he asked hospital authorities if his insurance package covered the treatment that he was about to get but they said the hospital was out of network. However, they said they would accept his insurance.

“’I'm on Seton, my Austin ISD [insurance] is Seton network, I just want to make sure I'm being covered by this And they said, ‘Yeah, we've accepted your insurance, your insurance has been contacted,’ it sounded like they'd said yes,” he recalled.     

The procedure went on as planned and Calver got discharged from St. David's Medical Center after four days. But  what came ahead was the real shocker.

A month later, he received a bill that showed he had to pay $108,951, because his insurance plan covered only $55,840 of the total amount.

“They’re going to give me another heart attack stressing over this bill,” he said.

 

Calver thought the hefty amount on the letter was either a mistake on the hospital’s part or his insurance company but he later found out that he had to pay the amount after receiving calls from debt collectors.

The man and his wife said they contacted the hospital authorities several times and told them that they weren’t able to pay the amount. However, the medical center never offered financial assistance. After trying endlessly, the hospital gave them until August 2018 to resolve the matter.

The hospital recently defended the amount charged and said their utmost priority is the welfare and health of the patient. They try to make sure that the patient‘s treatment is covered on the insurance plan which is used by them but said it doesn’t happen in all the cases.

Calver’s story instantly went viral after being covered by different news outlets.

After the story made headlines, the hospital contacted him and said they would clear his outstanding bill if he paid $782 based on the hospital’s financial-assistance program.

“I shouldn’t have ever had to deal with this bill. I’m supposed to be reducing stress in my life with this heart condition, so it will be nice for this to end,” he said.

Calver also said that the hospital never told him about the assistance program and only offered it to him after his story made it to the news platform.

He added he’s relieved now that he has to pay a lowered amount but still isn’t sure if he will be able to pay that or not and feared that he isn’t the only one who was put in such an unpleasant situation.

“I’ll worry about the person who got a $20,000 bill. They talk you into paying that off. And people do it. I had nowhere else to turn, besides saying this was wrong,” said Calver.

The incident highlights one of the biggest issues people across the United States are forced to struggle with: the extremely high cost of medical care.

Spotlight, Banner: Reuters, Nacho Doce

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