CLEVELAND — Coronavirus has hit everything directly or indirectly. A North Royalton man didn’t have COVID-19, but his surgery and medical bills have been significantly impacted by the virus. Here’s how you can rebound from a situation like his.
“Pain can be hurting for several days. It kind of is always there,” said Tom Stoop, 63. He hurts in more ways than one. “The hospital is really trying to take advantage of me, I think in a way,” said Stoop.
He had scheduled hip surgery at University Hospitals in late March when coronavirus struck. UH then canceled his surgery. That was the start of his second pain. “You go through a lot just to have the surgery,” he told us.
Pre-surgery testing included x-rays, an EKG, various blood work, and doctors’ visits. All together, Stoop said his portion of the costs were about $900.
“I don’t think I should have to pay for it all being that they canceled it,” said Stoop. “I didn’t cancel the surgery.”
“There are two ways to approach this. We have two constituents. One is the hospital. The other is the insurer,” said AnnMarie McIlwain. She’s the CEO of Patient Advocators.
She told us you should remind the hospital that the government already gave it money to help cover this kind of cost. Or you can negotiate to have the hospital just take the insurer’s costs and not charge you above that.
And you can use your leverage at this time when hospitals financially need procedures like this. “I really want this surgery but I also could go elsewhere,” suggested McIlwain as a way to phrase your argument for help. “I don’t want to go elsewhere. I like my doctor. I like the hospital. So, could we work this out so it’s a win-win on both sides?”
Stoop scheduled a new surgery for July 8. He’s worried about paying for some of the same pre-surgery tests and visits he did the first time.
“There’s no guarantee that they might cancel again is the other thing which I would hope not,” he said.
On top of all of that, Stoop said he’s been recently laid off. “I’m not working right now… money is tight,” said Stoop.
University Hospitals sent this statement which in part reads that UH is working with patients about coronavirus costs. It did apologize for not getting to Stoop’s concerns in a more timely manner.
Here’s the full statement:
“For our patients whose surgeries were delayed by Ohio’s suspension of nonessential surgeries and procedures, University Hospitals is resolving claims and fees they incurred for their pre-surgical testing at that time. As part of ongoing changes introduced by the pandemic, UH has taken proactive steps to identify and notify patients who may have received bills previously and implemented appropriate actions, including reprocessing claims and/or issuing refunds automatically.
UH also created special communications related to Covid-19 encouraging patients to contact our Customer Service agents with any questions or concerns related to billing. They have been prepared to expedite resolutions.
We appreciate Mr. Stoop’s patience in the matter and apologize that we were not able to get him the appropriate response in a timely manner.
It’s important for patients who had their surgeries, procedures and appointments delayed because of the COVID pandemic to contact their UH physician for the care they need. Our hospitals and health centers are safe and full services are now available.”