Thom and Deirdre went to Swedish Medical because they were traveling at the time and Deirdre had read reviews of Swedish Medical online - they appeared generally positive. But as they say, looks can be deceptive.
“We were at the clinic for just more than an hour, mostly waiting to see the doctor and then waiting for results of a swab test,” says Thom. “The doctor said that no treatment was necessary and we left with a prescription for an antibiotic. Imagine our shock when we received an invoice for $2,027.70.”
Thom and Deirdre sent Swedish a letter asking how they could justify these medical overcharges and requested an itemized list. They also asked how much their insurance company contributed to the bill (insurance had covered more than $1,000). Adding to their frustration, Swedish said they had already been given a “discount” and that they had been undercharged rather than overcharged because Swedish had got the level of intervention wrong.
“In other words there are a few levels and we were charged a higher [cheaper] level,” Thom explains. “Swedish implied that they were doing this as a favor. Second they would not review the extra charges we asked about. Instead they said, ‘If you are not happy with our response, the complaint procedure is that you can come back to the patient advocate at Swedish.’ Or I could lodge a complaint with the Colorado Health Department.”
READ MORE EMERGENCY ROOM CHARGES LEGAL NEWS
The Colorado Department of Public Health couldn’t help with this kind of complaint and Swedish said they were sending the case to a debt collector. “Swedish was using strong-arm tactics on us,” says Thom. “They told us that our credit score would be affected so we had to pay up or suffer the consequences.”
There is another option available when it comes to emergency room overcharges. If you haven’t been able to negotiate or dispute overcharges, a qualified attorney can negotiate on your behalf.