BELLE ISLE, Florida – Axavier Strick says he was assured his hospital stay would be covered by financial assistance, but then received a bill for $ 33,000 in the mail.
“In my heart I was like, ‘This can’t be what I see,” Strick told News 6. “It was beautiful. I must have looked at the number several times.
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When the pandemic struck, Strick, like so many others, lost his job as a local artist and his insurance. When he first fell ill last June, he was reluctant to go to the hospital.
“I couldn’t afford it,” Strick said. “I didn’t want to go into debt.
He said he finally got so sick that he had no choice.
“I was on the maximum amount of oxygen you can get before going to ventilation,” he said. “I resigned myself, I was going to die.”
Strick says he spent eight days at Orlando Health.
After being released and still recovering, he said he immediately requested financial assistance.
Strick shared a letter he received from Orlando Health, showing that his request for financial assistance had been reviewed. He was eligible and his account had been adjusted to a zero balance, according to the letter.
“I thought the situation was settled,” he said.
But in February, he received the bill for more than $ 33,000. It was due immediately, according to the bill.
“It was really alarming,” Strick said. “It made me feel that what they told me was not true.”
Strick said he contacted the hospital, spoke to someone and waited.
“I never heard anything back. I never heard anything back, so I contacted you, ”he said.
News 6 has been in contact with Orlando Health on behalf of Strick on May 4, May 6, May 10, May 11 and received this response on May 12:
“Although HIPPA prohibits us from treating individual patient care, in certain circumstances we can rely on funding from the Cares Act to supplement the other tools we have in place to provide financial assistance to our non-Covid-19 patients. insured ”, we read in part.
Susan McPhail-Taylor is the founder of RN Patient Advocates of Central Florida. She spent over 40 years as a registered nurse and administrator and now helps patients know what they are being billed.
“The national study shows that about 50% of medical bills are wrong,” McPhail-Taylor said.
“It’s not that people are trying to be deceitful in hospitals or anything like that,” McPhail-Taylor said. “But it’s that there are so many entry points for information and it’s so detailed that an error can happen at any time,” she said.
An Orlando Health spokesperson also referred us to information about the CARES Act.
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, among others, “provides reimbursements to eligible providers for treatment of Covid-19 for uninsured individuals,” according to the Health Resources and Services Administration website.
Orlando Health has confirmed that it is possible for a patient’s bill to be sent before the hospital is reimbursed by the government. This is something to keep in mind for others who are uninsured and may have needed medical treatment for COVID-19.
So it doesn’t look like Strick will have to pay that bill.
“So I feel a lot more comfortable,” Strick said.
Hospital bills can be complicated, according to McPhail-Taylor.
She said patients should always request an itemized bill to make it easier to dispute charges.
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