$89K Hospital bill gives Scottsdale man sticker shock

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By Andrew Michalscheck By Andrew Michalscheck

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- A Valley couple believes they were overcharged by a hospital.  The bill is pretty staggering.

The couple planned on being out of pocket around $15,000 to $20,000, but in the end they spent way more than that.

"Well my golf game is coming back. I gotta get some of my strength back," said Norm Assam.

Norm and his wife are snowbirds from Canada and enjoy staying active while they're here in Arizona.

"My wife and I watch our weight very closely and we try and watch the right things and we both enjoy golfing," Norm said.

So Norm was concerned when he wasn't feeling quite right recently. After a couple of doctor visits he wound up in a cardiologist's office.

"We went to a heart doctor to see if I could get some help, and he suggested having my heart catheterized," Norm explained.

Norm says it's a minor procedure, in fact he had it done in Arizona a few years earlier and paid around $14,000 cash because he and his wife don't have American insurance.

Needing the procedure again, the couple started researching hospitals and talked to Scottsdale Health Care Shea to get a quote in advance.

"They said that there was no way they cold give me an estimate or even close to what it might cost," said Norm.

Needing to get the procedure done, Norm scheduled an appointment anyway and gave Scottsdale Health Care Shea a $5,000 deposit.

However, Norm says as he was being wheeled into the operating room, this happened.

"I was on the gurney and just ready to go in for the operation, a young gentlemen came a long and said he wanted $61,000," Norm recalled.

That meant $61,000 on top of the $5,000 he already gave them.

Norm says he reluctantly told the hospital employee to put it on his credit card and he figured he would deal with the matter later.

Then, well, Norm got his bill.

"That bill was $89,000," Norm proclaimed.

Norm was shocked, especially since he claims the same procedure was done at another hospital a few years earlier for around $14,000.
"They discounted it from $89,000 to $65,000, 35 percent off for paying cash.”

3 On Your Side contacted Scottsdale Health Care Shea.

After looking into the matter, they maintain the bill is correct and stand by the charges.

Although they couldn't explain why their bill is four times higher than when Norm had it done at another hospital they did agree to investigate again, but only if Norm can produce an itemized bill from his first procedure.

In the meantime, Norm acknowledges he should have demanded a written quote in advance.

"Just make sure that you're adamant about getting some kind of an estimate before you go to a hospital or before you have a procedure done," Norm advised.

Norm is working on getting an itemized bill from that first hospital so we can give it to Scottsdale Health Care Shea and we'll let you if they adjust the bill.