Northeast Ohio patient issues warning on ER, Express Care confusion

Left with a $949 uncovered medical bill
Posted at 10:30 PM, Mar 24, 2017
and last updated 2017-03-25 09:22:28-04

Denise Spagnola said she took a bad fall in Dec. 2015, so bad, she traveled to what was, at the time, the Marymount South facility on E. Royalton Road in Broadview Heights for treatment.

Spagnola said the doctor spent 10 minutes with her, took a few X-rays, and then sent her home.

But when she received the uncovered portion of the bill from the Cleveland Clinic it was $949.

Spagnola said the unexpected amount sent her into a panic.

"It was ridiculous, there is no way I should have been charged that much," said Spagnola. "My family has been going to that location for years, whether it was an emergency room or not, we've never been charged that high."

Spagnola thought she was going to an Express Care Clinic, when, according the Cleveland Clinic, she actually visited an emergency room, and was charged emergency room rates.

Spagnola believes the facility should not have been deemed an emergency room because it was not connected to a hospital.

In fact, just several months after Spagnola's treatment at the Broadview Heights location, Cleveland Clinic reclassified the facility as a lower priced Express Care Clinic.

"I'm writing letters for 6 months telling them that, and now they're going to send out an official letter that it's an express clinic. I said 'is it me?'"

"I live just 10 minutes from Marymount Hospital, I would have went there. I drove 20 minutes, 25 minutes here to try to save money."

Cleveland Clinic quickly responded to our story, and agreed to look further into Spagnola's bill.

The clinic said it's important patients pay close attention to the red emergency signs posted outside each of emergency room facility, and that consumers check the listing of facilities and their classification on its website.

Still, Spagnola believes staff at these facilities should make it clear upfront that patients will be subject to emergency room rates before they receive treatment.