Kaiser Health News and NPR last week drew attention to the plight of a teacher who suffered a heart attack last year and was charged $108,951 by a Texas hospital, which has since agreed to lower the bill to $332.29.
The report formed part of the news outlets' "Bill of the Month" series, which delves into the troubles that patients face paying off debt accumulated in the $3.5 trillion health care industry, NPR noted.
The series recently focused on Drew Calver, a 44-year-old father of two who suffered a serious heart attack in April 2017 but was rushed to a hospital not listed in the network of facilities included in his school district health plan.
Calver remained in St. David's Medical Center in Austin for four days, and his insurance paid nearly $56,000, but the hospital charged him an additional $109,000.
This is a practice known as "balance billing," which occurs when a health care provider charges a patient for the different between the amount they charge and the amount that the patient's insurance pays, HealthInsurance.org reported.
Once Calver's story had been aired on radio and published online, the hospital said it would slash the bill, and on Thursday, the history teacher and swim coach settled the outstanding $332.29 over the phone.
Kaiser Health News said a memo was circulated to the hospital's board of governors last week in which chief executive C. David Huffstutler said, "this is not the type of coverage any of us want for St. David's HealthCare.
In a statement to CBS News, St. David's HealthCare said it had previously offered Calver a chance to apply for financial assistance.
The hospital added that the "charges reflect the 'retail' price for a procedure, treatment, or visit."
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