Make health providers explain charges before you pay

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Lois Hatfield said she didn't owe a second copay for an emergency room visit but her health insurance thought overwise. (Source: CBS 5) Lois Hatfield said she didn't owe a second copay for an emergency room visit but her health insurance thought overwise. (Source: CBS 5)
SUN CITY, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -

A Sun City woman says she understands a provision of her health plan very well but a west Valley hospital seems to be confused.

Some health plans limit what a hospital can charge patients who visit the emergency room twice on the same day for the same problem. Sometimes this can create confusion, so never pay a health care bill unless the provider can explain it.

Last November, Lois Hatfield took her husband Willie to the emergency room at Abrazo Arrowhead Hospital. She paid the $75 copay required by her health plan and Willie was treated and released. But hours later he was feeling worse and had to return.

"I knew if I had to take him back within 24 hours, I would not owe a second copay, you only pay one time for every 24 hours," Hatfield said.

It's in Hatfield's insurance manual; there's no additional ER copay if you return within 24 hours for the same condition. Hatfield says Abrazo refused to confirm or deny this but did bill her another $75.

"You know, send me a reason, what it is, if it's something else, or whatever, I'll be happy to pay it, but I don't owe a second copay," Hatfield said.

Hatfield says she provided Abrazo her receipt of payment that day and a copy of her insurance explanation saying she only owed $75. Neither seemed to work and after six months trying to resolve, she got a notice from a debt collector.

"I was talking to them all the time, trying to get it figured out and for them to go ahead and turn it into collections and ruin my credit like this," Hatfield said.

She can't believe her perfect credit is in jeopardy over a tiny charge she doesn't owe.

"How many other people get a bill like that and goes ahead and pays it and they don't ask questions. I usually ask questions," Hatfield said.

CBS 5 News asked Abrazo to look into this issue. It seems the bill was for an additional copay which Hatfield clearly didn't owe.

Hatfield says Abrazo removed the matter from collections and wiped out the bill. CBS 5 News thanks Abrazo for quick work in resolving this complaint.

Don't just pay a small health care bill. Make providers first explain why you owe it.

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Copyright 2017 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.


Dave CherryCBS 5 Advocate Dave Cherry works to resolve your consumer problems and protect your money. If he can't help, he'll do his best to point you in the right direction.

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Dave Cherry
CBS 5 Advocate

Dave was born and raised in Philadelphia and considers himself one of the biggest Philly sports fans. At 6-feet, 5-inches, he's probably right! Dave started on a different career path before fulfilling his lifelong dream of reporting the news and helping consumers. Dave graduated from Philadelphia University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting; he later earned an MBA degree in Finance from Temple University in Philadelphia. Dave also spent ten years as Vice President and Director of Sales and Marketing for two of America's leading real estate franchise companies. Dave started his 21-year news career at WHP in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, as news anchor and reporter, then moved to KOLD in Tucson, as the morning news anchor. From Tucson, he went to KRON in San Francisco as a freelance news reporter before moving east to COMCAST in Philadelphia as a general assignment reporter. In the fall of 2003, Dave moved west and joined KPNX in Phoenix and spent nine years as the station Call for Action Consumer Reporter. Through his on-air advocacy work in 2011, Dave and his team were able to help consumers save more than $1 million. Dave joined CBS 5 News as our CBS 5 Advocate in December 2012. Dave is a vegan and likes to eat the amazing vegan food prepared by his lovely wife, Carmen. Dave's also a big Bruce Springsteen fan (he's seen more than 70 shows!), the man who inspired him to learn the guitar. Besides playing many of the boss' songs, Dave writes and sings his own songs and recorded a CD of original music.

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