3OYS: Woman battles out-of-network medical bill

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By Tami Hoey By Tami Hoey

Theresa Withrow stays pretty busy with gardening and taking care of her rabbits.

"They're very active early in the morning and in the evening," she said.

But recently bad health seems to be slowing her down.

"I've been having heart palpitations and arrhythmias," Withrow said. "I had almost a blackout."

As a result, she went to the emergency room.

"We went to Scottsdale north," she said.
That's important because Scottsdale Shea is considered by her health insurance to be in network.

Withrow said while at the ER, she was examined and then released.

"The ER doctor came in, he looked at the computer for a couple minutes, he asked me a couple questions, listened to my heart and then left," she said.
Luckily, Withrow turned out to be just fine, but what she wasn't fine with was a bill she received a couple of months later.

"Then I looked down and saw the doctor's bill and it was $902 and it was out of network, which was a total shock to us," Withrow said.

Withrow specifically went to this hospital because it’s in her insurance's network.

So, what's the problem? It turns out that ER doctor that briefly examined Withrow was not in her network and as a result she got stuck with that $900 out-of-network bill.  
"I felt like if I go to the hospital now I should say to someone, 'Now how much is this going to cost me before you do anything and are you in network?'" Withrow said.

3 On Your Side got a hold of Withrow's insurance company, which agreed to look into the matter for us.

They told Withrow that  the ER doctor was in fact out of network, but they are still investigating to determine why the charges were so high.

In the meantime, Withrow said her bill was reduced to just $48, which is all she'll be responsible to pay.
Withrow said she appreciates 3 On Your Side's involvement and said it's a warning to consumers when they go to the ER.

"I guess it's just the buyer beware," she said. "You have to know all of those things yourself and if you don't, you're going to get stuck in this kind of trap.”