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Hospital slashes $109K bill for heart attack to $332 after media coverage: report

Hospital slashes $109K bill for heart attack to $332 after media coverage: report
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A hospital that initially charged a patient nearly $109,000 for care for his heart attack has now slashed the bill down to $332 after an outcry resulting from media coverage, NPR reported Friday.

NPR and Kaiser Health News published a story earlier this week reporting that a high school teacher in Austin, Texas, named Drew Calver had received a $108,951 bill for his care after his heart attack, even after his insurance paid the hospital $56,000.

After a flurry of attention on the case after that story was published, the hospital, St. David’s Medical Center, drastically lowered Calver’s bill down to $782.29. The hospital then lowered the bill even more, to $332.29, which Calver has now paid, NPR reported.

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The case has drawn attention to a practice known as “balance billing” where hospitals go after patients for additional payments beyond what their insurance was willing to pay.

David Huffstutler, the CEO of the hospital, wrote in a memo obtained by Kaiser Health News that the charges were “reasonable and customary and in line with this type of procedure.”

He blamed Calver’s insurer, Aetna, for the high charges, because under Calver’s narrow network plan, St. David’s Medical Center was not in-network.

He wrote that the structure of the insurance plan “placed a large portion of the financial responsibility directly on the patient.”