INVESTIGATIVE VIDEO, Hospital Bills: Part 1, CBS Atlanta reveals hospital bill secrets

By Adam Murphy

Click_to_watch_video_IKON2ATLANTA (CBS ATLANTA) – JUNE 7, 2013 –  A trip to the hospital can cost you a fortune, even if you have insurance. CBS Atlanta News has learned that often times you’re billed incorrectly and you may not even know it.

Linda Hutchinson has had multiple surgeries during the past seven years as a result of a car accident.

“The right hip got smashed by the seatbelt and that’s what started it all,” Hutchinson said.

Since then she’s received thousands of dollars in hospital bills.

“$43,000 for a hip,” Hutchinson said.

And it wasn’t until she had surgery on her neck at Emory Johns Creek Hospital that she noticed some questionable charges on her bill.

She’s said she was incorrectly billed $753 for speech pathology.

“I couldn’t talk,” Hutchinson said.

That’s because she said she had a breathing tube in her mouth.

“It’s just like, wow,” Hutchinson said.

Leslie Whaley couldn’t believe her hospital bill either.

“It almost makes me speechless,” Whaley said.

She was diagnosed with Lupus Nephritis, an autoimmune disease that affects her kidneys, and once a month she has to go to the hospital for treatment.

“I receive three bags of Mesna for each of my monthly treatments and consistently on the bills I was being charged for five bags of Mesna,” Whaley said.

That’s an extra $520 on her bill and she said her bill fluctuates every month even though she’s essentially receiving the same treatment at WellStar Kennestone Hospital.

“I don’t know how it went from $6,000 something to over $8,000 when my initial treatment was close to $5,000,” Whaley said.

Cindy Holtzman is a medical billing advocate and said it’s common for hospitals to bill you incorrectly.  She said you should always request an itemized bill, challenge charges that are incorrect and demand a discount if your bill is too high.

“In town I find that you can get 40 percent off hospital bills, but they don’t do it on a payment plan, only if you can pay upfront,” Holtzman said.

Meanwhile, both Hutchinson and Whaley are recovering from their health issues, but not from their high medical bills.

“I want to believe it’s something they’re not doing intentionally,” Whaley said.

CBS Atlanta News contacted both hospitals mentioned in the story and they immediately began working with the patients to review their billing concerns.

Be sure to always request an itemized bill so that you can clearly review the charges.  Coming up Monday night at 11 we’ll tell you what else hospitals are charging you for and how to lower your bill.

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