AURORA, Colo. (KDVR) – When Brittany Tesso received a $676.86 medical bill from Colorado Children’s Hospital after a panel of doctors observed her son for two hours to see if he needed speech therapy, she thought the amount was extreme, but she paid for it.
But when she received a separate bill two weeks later for $847.35, she was speechless.
“I can tell you right now that I would have gone somewhere else if they had told me there was an $850 charge, basically for a Zoom call,” Tesso said.
Her 3-year-old son’s appointment was virtual, a telehealth visit conducted from her home computer, but she was told the $847.35 bill was a “facility fee.”
“I was like, ‘Service fee? I didn’t go to your facility. I was at home and as far as I know some doctors were also at home. And she said, ‘Well, we charge the same whether you come to the facility or whether it’s a telehealth appointment,” Tesso said.
Tesso is not the only one affected by a bill like this. Michael Kark was charged a $503 facility fee after his son went to see a doctor, not at Children’s Hospital Colorado, but at a medical practice building owned by Children’s Hospital from Colorado. Nexstar’s KDVR heard from 20 other people with similar stories.
“It basically looks like a scam,” said Adam Fox, deputy director of the Colorado Consumer Health Initiative. “It’s really about charging a facility, i.e. the hospital, that they don’t even have access to.”
Fox said consumers have no real recourse because there are no regulations in Colorado regarding facility fees charged by hospitals.
“I think it’s quite sad and pathetic,” Tesso said. “State lawmakers could really get past this. … You know they’re not allowed to do surprise bills, but I think that’s what it’s all about. It’s 100% a surprise bill.
Colorado House Minority Leader Hugh McKean said he was working on legislation that would bring greater transparency to patient billing, though his measure specifically relates to hospital provider charges at this time, not establishment costs.
Colorado Children’s Hospital did not explain why it felt it was appropriate to charge a facility fee of $847 for a virtual visit or how it arrived at that amount. In a statement, the hospital told KDVR:
This isn’t exclusively a Children’s Colorado issue, and we suggest you speak to other providers, insurers, and legislators to provide a broader perspective on the system that governs how we all operate. We want affordable and accessible care for all of our patients, and we continually review our own practices to see where we can adjust and improve while working to build a functioning system of care for children.
We agree that insurance coverage, healthcare costs and healthcare costs in general can be confusing and frustrating to navigate, and don’t always make sense. To that end, we continue to advocate for state and federal policies that address consumer concerns about health care costs through more affordable and accessible insurance coverage and price transparency for hospitals and providers. providers, while advocating for children’s access to care and the unique needs of a pediatric hospital.
Colorado Children’s Hospital
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