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NICU bill installment plan: That'll be $45,843 a month for 12 months, please

Victoria Knight, Kaiser Health News on

Published in Health & Fitness

Although UMR is owned by UnitedHealthcare, the two companies did not communicate well about the case.

“It’s indicative of all the ways the system fails the patient,” Fuse Brown said. “Even the one who does everything right.”

Through the nearly yearlong fight over the bill, the Bennetts were also caring for Dorian, who left the hospital with lingering gastrointestinal issues, and managing Chris’ treatment for stage 4 neuroendocrine cancer, which was diagnosed in April. At one point, Bisi said, she felt she was going crazy.

“They’re in charge of billing, and I shouldn’t be the one having to tell them, ‘Bill my one insurance for dates in 2020 and bill my other insurance for dates in 2021,’ but I did,” she said. “I kept having the same conversation over and over.”

Resolution: Bisi Bennett immediately noticed and understood the calendar issue when she received the billing statements in spring 2021. She started by calling the hospital and was told the problem would be corrected in March. Yet, in September, she got the same half-a-million-dollar bill.

UnitedHealthcare spokesperson Maria Gordon Shydlo, who also fielded KHN’s questions for UMR, said the insurance company told AdventHealth to revise the bill with correct dates in the spring.

 

Breen, the spokesperson for AdventHealth Orlando, confirmed to KHN that the billing error stemmed from the change in insurers from 2020 to 2021. In a statement, Breen said medical billing can be a complex process and the hospital “understand[s] this has been a confusing and challenging experience for Ms. Bennett, and we apologize for the frustration this has caused.”

AdventHealth Orlando did not submit a revised bill with corrected dates until KHN contacted the hospital in October 2021.

After UHC and UMR reprocessed the 2020 and 2021 claims, the original bill of more than $550,000 was knocked down to $300.

In his statement, Breen said that the Bennetts’ case sparked AdventHealth to identify and address issues in its system and that the hospital plans to improve the billing and communications process for future patients, particularly when there is a change in insurance.

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