HMA affiliate in North Carolina charges resident $89,000 for snake bite

Feb 3, 2014 | Health Insurance Billing

Health Management Associates (HMA) is currently under fire for allegedly charging patients for excessive care as a way to get higher reimbursement returns from Medicare and Medicaid, but news on one of its affiliates may not be happening its case. 

Last summer, Mooresville resident Eric Ferguson felt a pain in his foot. What he thought was a bee sting had an outline of fangs, so Ferguson decided to drive 15 miles to Lake Norman Regional Medical Center to get treated, the Charlotte Observer explained.

Eighteen hours in a hospital bed later, Ferguson was on his way back home. Soon after that August incident, Lake Norman Regional Medical Center's accounts receivable department gave Ferguson a $89,227 bill, $81,000 of it was for the four vials of anti-venom. Anti-venom vials typically go anywhere between $750 to $12,000.

Medical professionals are aware that the cost for procedures, examinations and medication vary from health insurance providers, Medicaid and Medicare, but Ferguson's wife Laura felt the price tag was too high.

"What if it was someone that didn't have the resources to research and didn't have insurance?" Laura Ferguson told the Observer. "What is fair and equitable here?"

Even though the Lake Norman Regional Medical Center is a for-profit health organization, the Fergusons are sticking to their opinion because they still paid $5,400 after taking health insurance into account. 

To ensure patients are billed in accordance to their health insurance coverage, accounts receivable management needs to pay close attention to the policyholder's plan. Doing this in advance reduces the likelihood that a patient will dispute or refuse to pay for the practice's services. If there are instances that collecting bill payments becomes a larger problem, consider outsourcing medical billing services.